You may have noticed a bit more activity at your gym lately. Like many businesses, gyms have their busy season—New Year’s, the onset of spring and shortly after Labor Day. And there is a reason for this. For obvious reasons, New Year’s marks the beginning of, well, a new year which brings with it a strong desire to improve something in your life or make some type of positive and healthy change. And since most resolutions include exercise, many people join gyms or restart their exercise program this time of year.
The other two times of the year may not be as obvious. Springtime is when people begin exchanging their coats and ski pants for tank tops and shorts. But before you bare all, you want to make sure your body looks good enough for the latest skin-revealing bathing suit or skirt. This is also a time when vacations and trips to the beach are at their prime. So what happens after Labor Day? Well, after working hard getting into bathing suit shape, summer comes and goes and before you know it, you went most of those months enjoying the sun, but falling short of your regular exercise routine. So what better time to start than after Labor Day when the kids are back in school, and vacations and trips to the beach are done?
This pattern often repeats itself year after year for many people. The problem is that if you stay on track all year round rather than jumping on and off the fitness train from season to season, there will be no need to cram it all in right before the warm seasons, an upcoming vacation or the start of a new year.
Unfortunately, a few months of exercise here and there does not equate to a solid exercise regimen and you may be actually doing more harm than good by continuing this cycle of activity and inactivity. How? When you consistently exercise, you are getting stronger, increasing your cardiovascular health and putting all of your body’s systems back into proper functioning mode. But once you stop, your strength begins to wean, your cardiovascular capacity diminishes and your bodily systems will begin reverting to their old, confused ways. Consider this—it only takes one to two weeks of no exercise to begin losing your cardiovascular fitness. It takes a bit longer (two to six weeks) to lose muscle. The worst part is that getting it all back will take much longer than the time it took to lose it.
Of course, the good news is that depending on your fitness level, age and determination, you can get back what you lost a bit quicker than others. The bottom line is—you should never take off weeks or months at a time if you can avoid it. Even better—if you were sticking with it all year round, there is no need to go on crazy diets, do marathon workouts for a few weeks or kill yourself trying to prep for that upcoming vacation or beach trip. You can basically stick with what you are already doing without the pressure and without the fear that your body will not be “ready”.
So the next time the seasons change, do not change your routine with them. Stick to your guns (you know, those big biceps you worked so hard to get) and stay with it. Bears should be the only ones hibernating for the season. Stay strong and healthy all year so when the time comes to bare all, you will have absolutely nothing to worry about! And finally, if you’re sick of starting over, stop giving up!