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5 Reasons why taking a break from your usual exercise regime – is good for your health.

1. Your Body needs downtime:  It turns out that one of the best things you can do for your next athletic ambition is to take some downtime and try something completely different.  “Just exercise when and if you feel like it,” says Joe Friel, author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible. “And do whatever you want to do, go hiking with the family, rollerblading, skiing. Days off are definitely encouraged.”  Why do we need a rest from repeating strenuous exercise? Did you know that muscle growth happens after exercise and not during? Your body needs rest to repair and replace damaged muscle fibres. Damaged muscle fibres are fused through a cellular process forming new muscle fibres known as protein synthesis. These muscle fibres increase in thickness and multiply which causes muscle growth. You can only build muscle if the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle breakdown says J. Leyva in his article on muscle growth. Muscle breakdown is caused by aging, sedentary lifestyle and over training.  So, don’t overdo it this winter, take time for some protein synthesis!

2. Go with the season: When the weather gets bad – taking your exercise indoors will help keep you motivated and fit during autumn and winter. Last month we explored seven reasons to bring your fitness indoors during this change of season. Don’t use the dark and rainy mornings as an excuse to gain unwanted weight this winter. Get yourself booked in with a personal trainer once a week and stick to it. Supervised resistance training once or twice a week will make you get up, turn up and muscle up – maintaining a fit and toned body all winter long, ready for summer

3. Keep calm and build some muscle:  Muscle is the corner stone of our skeletal systems and we don’t always realise the importance of maintaining this part of our body. We all forget, especially woman, that a healthy strong and toned body means muscle mass! You need to look after it. In fact, every year from the age of 25, you start to lose an average of 250gm of muscle if you don’t specifically train to maintain their growth. Use winter as a good time to get back to building on your strength foundation.  This can be achieved with only one or two resistance training sessions (YES only one or two!) a week, combined with healthy eating and proper muscle recovery between sessions. You will guarantee yourself to be ready when summer comes and the great outdoor cardio activities with it.

4. Act like the Pro’s: Professional athletes know the consequences of not taking a serious break after every hard training season. “The mind and body needs to recover” is stressed by sport coaches worldwide.  Why don’t YOU let your body recover?  “Your body has only a certain bank account of adaptive energy,” says Alan Couzens, a cycling and triathlon coach based in Colorado. “It will keep responding to training for only a certain period of time before that bank account goes into the red.”    Some professional athletes dedicate their personal off seasons to Yoga retreats, Pilates, beach activities, and take a complete consecutive break lasting up to a few weeks.  Why? Exercise physiologists warns of muscle inflammation and damage caused by over training and cumulative fatigue that sets you back in achieving your physical and mental goals. The snowball just gets bigger from there. You don’t have to be a pro to need a break! Everyone benefits from easing up now and then, setting aside your usual sports routines precisely so that you can return stronger than ever.

5. Mix it up – Good for your body and soul:  Experts explains that the secret to optimal performance is to take a break long enough to let all signs of fatigue disappear, but not long enough to lose all of your current fitness.  Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch.  Use your off period to mix up your usual routine from “lung bursting” exercise.  Try overall full body resistance training only once or twice a week to build up useful stamina for your desired sport, keeping you in shape but with different mental focus.

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