Did you fall into the trap of making a grand resolution that you have already broken? New Year’s resolutions in January become the “I should do’s of February” and the regrets of March… Getting in to a new habit or routine takes about a month, and with exercise for females you typically need about 3 months of consistent work to see results on the scale. Your body will feel more toned, you will burn excess body fat and become more flexible and improve cardiovascular endurance in this time, but too much emphasis in placed on the scale, not the pants getting loser! Typically, people start too intensely, they get sore and because they haven’t lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks, they quit. There are so many more reasons to exercise than just weight loss…think of weight loss as a positive side effect to exercise, not the goal! The benefits of exercise for our health include: heart health with increased HDL good cholesterol and decreased blood pressure; a reduction in mental and physical stress; improved flexibility with decreased joint pain, improved muscle mass and a more toned body etc. Most people quit before they reap these benefits…and others worry about what happens when I stop?
When you take a break or stop any routine the benefits wear off. Right? If you stop brushing your teeth, they are dirty, plaque builds up, your breath gets worse and your teeth begin to corrode and enamel wears away. Gums reseed and bleed….a whole host of problems if you stop brushing your teeth…apply this same thought to your body with inactivity. According to Howard G. Knuttgen, PhD., a senior lecturer at Harvard University, a decline in performance and muscle size happens after as little as 1-2 weeks of not exercising. Muscle strength continues to decline if you don’t lift or add resistance exercise to your routine; bone density decreased; lean muscle tissue wastes away and your body composition will be altered with more body fat and less muscle as your body stores excess calories as fat (muscle does not turn into fat!!)…you need to burn those calories with exercise to rev the metabolism and increase lean muscle tissue to increase your metabolic rate!
Here’s some good news!! Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2010 issue), showed research that even lifting one time per week can keep the muscular gains from a regular weight lifting routine going. Researchers split a group of people ranging in age from mid 20-70’s to complete a workout 3 times per week of a weight lifting routine for 4 months. Then, participants were split into a group of no exercising, lifting one time per week, and the final group lifted one time per week but only a fraction of their normal weights. The group who maintained weight lifting one time per week maintained or gained further muscle strength. What this says is if you have gained fitness, even if you have to cut way back on workouts or fell off the wagon for a bit, this minimal exercise could possibly maintain your fitness! So get back at it, slow and steady wins the race…
The point is, if you made a grand resolution and broke it, start again and just start small!! Doing a little bit of exercise can pay off and hold you until you can get into a regular routine again. So, even if you are only able to go to the gym for one time the whole week, GO. It will keep your body going and is not a waste of time. Then, get back into your regular exercise routine as soon as possible. Just like brushing your teeth…a little every day, keeps the bad breath and cavities away…control your health risks with little bits of exercise in your normal daily routine!