Christmas is here, bringing good cheer … and cookies, and parties, and holiday travels, all of which make it difficult to continue your regular exercise routine. If you’ve been working to get or stay in shape, the holiday season presents a variety of challenges. So, how to avoid getting out of shape?
Three Things That Research Tells Us
1. It’s not just about what you gain, it’s about what you lose.
When you stop exercising, an act known as detraining, you don’t just gain weight, you also lose the many health benefits that you gain when you make fitness and exercise a regular part of your life. In one study, a group of sedentary women began and continued a cycling fitness routine for eight weeks and then stopped. After another eight weeks, “They were … found to have lost all of their aerobic gains and returned to their original fitness levels.”
A series of studies conducted by E.F. Coyle and published in The Journal of Applied Physiology in the mid-1980s found that maximal aerobic capacity, the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during aerobic exercise and an important measure of endurance performance, decreased significantly when training ceased. This research led other scholars to conclude, “Most of the physiological determinants of endurance performance decline rapidly once the training process is interrupted, leading to detraining and impaired performance capacity.”
2. Both benefits and losses come quickly.
The results of a study published in 2015 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology indicate that while individuals can quickly benefit from a fitness routine initial results also fade quickly when exercised is ceased. A study of young adult women who had not been participating in any training showed that “six HIIT sessions is sufficient to affect clinically significant responses in young, overweight/obese women,” meaning that the participants experienced extended low blood pressure after exercising. “However, the training effects are lost within 2 weeks of detraining.”
3. Something is better than nothing.
A study where sedentary men participated in strength training sessions three times a week for three months and then cut back to once per week “found that these men maintained nearly all the strength gains they developed in the first three months.” Similarly, Coyle’s studies from the 1980s showed that the decrease in aerobic capacity could be prevented if individuals continued some form of exercise, even if the type of training changed to a lower-impact activity.
Three Ways to Prevent Yourself from Detraining During the Holidays
1. Find an accountability partner.
The best way to make sure that you exercise is to be accountable to someone beside yourself, so join a gym where you can attend classes or work with a personal trainer. Oxfordshire Personal Training has boot camps, shared personal training, and one-on-one personal training. Others participating in boot camp as well as the coaches and trainers will help you stay motivated and remain accountable by noticing when you skip a session.
2. Stay active no matter where the season takes you.
It isn’t always possible to physically go to your usual gym. If you’re traveling, make a plan for participating in fitness activities before you leave. If you will be staying at a hotel with a pool or fitness center, you can easily fit in at least a short work every couple of days. If you will be staying with friends or family, consider downloading an exercise app like Sworkit, which provides you with short workouts you can complete almost anywhere. See if you can stay in touch with your accountability partner through e-mails or text messages to keep you motivated to exercise. Also, remember that exercise produces mood-boosting hormones, so it is a great way to relieve travel and/or holiday induced stress!
3. Set goals and bribe yourself.
Choose a present that you’d like, but don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t even drop hints! Then, set a goal for how frequently you will exercise between now and January 1st. If you meet that goal, buy yourself the present! If you can’t think of something you want to buy, reward yourself with a trip to the spa or a nice lunch out with friends after the new year.
If you would like information on how Oxfordshire Personal Training can help you achieve your goals and stay on track while going to ugly sweater parties and exchanging homemade cookies, contact us.
Please let us know any questions or comments you have here and our expert personal trainers will answer them for you.