Kettlebell trainer Vinay Sangwan shares his tips on how to maintain your muscle tone and minimise the impact of a longish break from your regular workout. 

Most people long to make fitness a part of their everyday lives.  They know it’s good for them to work out, since exercise ups their energy level, and keeps them in shape. Regular, heart-pumping movement also has many health benefits.

Positive impact of exercise

For one, it keeps your mind off minor aches and pains. Second, it enables your body to use food as fuel more efficiently, building your stamina and endurance. In fact, you can gauge the positive health impact on your body by checking key health indicators such as blood pressure and blood sugar.

Last, but not the least, exercise improves the mood by boosting  chemicals called endorphins released by the brain. Despite these benefits and our best intentions, however, life sometimes forces us to stop exercising.

The question is, how badly does a break impact your fitness level?

A short break is OK
For those of us who train regularly, an occasional break is not bad. In fact, top athletes are even advised to take a couple of days of downtime, before a major competition.

Generally speaking, a day or two doesn’t make a difference. In fact, upto to a couple of weeks of not hitting the gym should not be a cause for concern, for an otherwise healthy person.
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Extended break has a negative impact
When you haven’t exercised for more than two weeks, however, your body will begin to feel the negative consequences.  “When you stop exercising, your body hits a point called the detraining phase,” says Vinay.

All the progress you made in terms of improved cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength will begin to decline and gradually disappear, especially if the break is too long. “Exercise is a lifestyle change. When you stop this, your lifestyle starts deteriorating,” he cautions.
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For those of us who are diabetic or hypertensive, these indicators will revert to their earlier levels. If your daily routine does not involve physical activity of any sort, you will also find your energy levels dropping and you may become susceptible to dark moods.

How to reduce the consequences
“All this is reversible, provided you switch back to your workouts again,” observes Vinay. “Nothing should stop a person from exercising,”  he says. “Try and spare 10 to 15 minutes a day to exercise, under any circumstance.” Otherwise, he advises aiming for higher activity levels in your daily routine.

So, walk or take the stairs when you can. Also, incorporate short exercises at your desk or workplace. In case your break has been forced by an injury or for medical reasons, seek professional help before you do any exercises, even if minimal.

In this way, you will stay reasonably healthy and energetic. When the time comes for you to get back to your original workouts, you will recover your fitness level easily enough.