Vacation’s over, time to exercise
That long-awaited vacation has come and gone. Now what? Can you return to your normal exercise schedule with the same ability you had when you left? Probably not.
Taking two or three weeks off from doing any type of physical activity while you lay in a hammock will wilt any muscle. Everyone fears losing what they worked endless hours to construct. You have visions of body bulge, uncontrollable and unacceptable eating habits and sagging muscles.
The body needs oxygen to function and to maintain healthy tissue, so when you stop feeding it the usual amount of aerobic exercise, it will begin to deteriorate and decline. Most people take a week or two off for vacation. And it’s often not easy to fit in fitness during those two weeks.
If you normally work out three to four times a week, what percentage of muscle and cardiovascular endurance have you lost at the end of your one- to two-week vacation? And how long will it take you to fit back into your regular exercise routine when you return?
The percentages listed here are what I have observed in my 35 years of teaching fitness. I find a gradual process of downslide during the first week off, and the pace picks up the longer you remain out of action. Lack of exercise also seems to go hand in hand with a lack of diet control.
This combination increases the percentage drop in capabilities. A lot of factors interact with vacation downslide: elevation, temperature, health and type of vacation.
A moderately active individual with a week off doing nothing will lose about 15 to 20 percent of his muscle ability and notice a 15 percent drop in his strength abilities. Women especially notice a drop in upper-arm strength. Cardiovascular capability remains, but it can lead to completing higher levels of strength repetitions than you’re ready for. You may see as much as a 50 percent loss of capabilities in both aerobics and strength exercise moves if your two-week vacation did not include any physical exercise.
If you have planned two weeks off, be prepared to drop one level in your fitness capabilities. Even if you jog, swim, or work in some other cardiovascular-conditioning form while you vacation, you will need the safety of a lowered level to return to exercise.
At this point, it’s easy to give up and forget you ever belonged to an exercise class. How long will it take you to return from this pitiful decline?
Plan on taking the same amount of down time to return to exercise; one week of slow gradual come back for every week off.
• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.