There’s no need to get discouraged if you miss a couple of days of your exercise program or panic if you don’t hit the gym for a week or two straight. Many people don’t start an exercise program because they are worried they won’t be able to keep it up regularly. But instead of focusing on the negative and worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to keep up with the program, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s easier to get in shape than out of shape.
The body is remarkable and tends to hold onto its fitness gains long after you’ve stopped exercising. Even if you miss a few days or a week of exercise, or even a few weeks in a month, there is no need to worry. Once you have been conditioned physically, it takes a lot longer to get out of shape than it took you to get into shape. The rate of regression depends on how long you’ve been exercising and how fit you are. Most people lose muscle strength at about one half the rate at which they gained it. So if you’ve been exercising regularly for three months and have to discontinue for any reason, it could take up to six months for your body to fall back to its pre-training state.
If you’ve been walking for approximately two or three months, your aerobic capacity starts to decrease in the first two to three weeks after you’ve stopped exercising, but it can take almost four to six months before fit exercisers get back to the pre-fitness level where they started. Aerobic exercising decreases the bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL cholesterol after you’ve been on your exercise program for approximately two to three months. Studies show that it took at least three months for those cholesterol levels to return to their original pre-exercise levels after the exercise was discontinued. When exercisers resumed their program, it took them only half the time to return to their original levels of fitness.
So don’t t panic if you have to take a short break from your exercise program. The benefits that you’ve worked so hard for are long lasting, and they can be obtained again in half the time. It’s motivating to think how far each workout takes you toward getting trim and fit, and staying fit for longer.