Our Seattle summer has seen its ups and downs, but the weather has certainly been warm for the past month. This warm weather, combined with the gym being closed, can leave one relaxing - enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem, but if you've been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains showing up, you might have the beginnings of some deconditioning.
What is deconditioning?
You might be saying to yourself I thought deconditioning is what old people get or those people who are placed on bed rest for long periods. You see deconditioning can occur at any age and in any person. It can also be the number one culprit of you getting injured while working out. Exercise is amazing and it creates many changes in your body - your heart begins to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles use oxygen more efficiently, they contract in a more coordinated manner, and your body gets more efficient turning food into fuel to name just a few. Deconditioning is Exercises evil twin and the complete reverse of these changes. Exercise is a "use it or lose it" kind of thing, and deconditioning is the process by which we "lose it."
How long does it take to decondition?
As with most things related to a system as complex as the human body, it depends ( I know everyone’s favorite answer). According to the American College of Sports Medicine, two weeks without exercise can lead to significant loss of cardiovascular fitness. Two to eight months of detraining can erase virtually all of your gains. As you detrain, cardiovascular fitness tends to decline first, with muscle strength declining later.
Other factors are your age, and your exercise history. If you're younger, you'll probably lose fitness at a slower rate than someone older. If you've been consistently exercising for a long time, or at a high intensity, your losses will probably be slower than for someone who just started.
How Do I Reverse the trend?
If you're just undergoing a period of increased time commitments at work or with family, using a shortened exercise routine can help minimize your losses. Even one session a week will help you keep most of what you've gained. Other options are to use shorter but more intense interval training sessions (Think Tabata training, if you Google it you’ll inundated with a ton of great workouts), or breaking up your activity into multiple short chunks during the day. If your layoff was longer, it may take just as long to retrain as it did to make the gains initially. If you're having those aches and pains due to inactivity or need help designing a safe program to either maintain your fitness or gain it back after a layoff, then talking to a physical therapist is a great way to stay injury free while getting fit!
If you get injured while ramping up your training we are here to help. I also created an eBook you can download all about sports injuries and how to treat them. This a culmination of my professional expertise and knowledge when I worked as an Athletic Trainer with the Chicago Cubs treating their injured players.
Here is the link to eBook: https://www.rehabunitedseattle.com/sports-injuries
I recommend you downloaded it an keep it flagged in your email inbox for future reference.