Thinking about taking a nice long break from working out? The holiday season is the best time of year to spend with family, friends, celebrate a little and maybe ease off on your regular workout routing. But if you're thinking about throwing in the towel to start again in the new year, you'll be facing an uphill battle.
When you stop working out, whether it's strength or cardiovascular training, you begin to decondition. Deconditioning means that you lose valuable lung capacity, your blood isn't as rich in oxygen and your muscles begin to atrophy.
Generally speaking, the longer you've been working out and the fitter you are, the less you'll decondition. Most everyday athletes really look forward to working out after a week or two off. A short break might be just what this type of athlete needs to regain focus and fend off burnout. On the flip side, if you've only been working out for a few months and already want to take a hiatus, starting up again will be like going back to square one. If you've made good progress, keep going. There's nothing worse than feeling completely winded walking up a few flights of stairs.
Holidays aside, if you're ill, your body absolutely needs the rest. We're also coming into the flu season, which means a few of us could be down for the count. If you're down, stay down. Thing of this as your body's way of telling you to recoup. Don't try to get back up until you feel like your body is up to it.
Since the holidays mean travel, eating and drinking, here are a few things you can do to help keep your fitness as strong as possible until you start working out regularly again.
1) Running Shoes: Even if you're not a runner, don't leave home without them. Running or brisk walking is a great way to both decompress and maintain good lung capacity. If you can't run or walk every day, carve out the time to get out and about every other day.
2) Portable/Body Weight Exercises: No matter where you are or who you're with, you'll always have time to do a number of easy body-weight exercises, including: Planks, Wall Squats, Lunges, Side Planks. You can get more details and examples of body weight exercises here.
3) Capacity Rule: So you're tempted to try a little bit of this and a little bit of that, or maybe you have food-pushers galore in your holiday home. Whatever the case, try not to eat to capacity. It's always easier to walk, not roll, away from the table.
4) Water Up: For every glass of alcohol you consume, try to follow with a glass of water. Alcohol is loaded with calories our body doesn't need, but it also dehydrates us. Adding in a glass of water will help manage hydration and slow down consumption.