You should give your body a break from your regular exercise routine about every 12 weeks. That doesn’t mean you become a “couch potato.” You can do “active rest” which means you can walk, play your favorite sport or any activity that is not your regular exercise routine….yardwork and house chores also quality as good activities.
Why do you need to take a break from exercise? That’s an easy question to answer…..when your body starts to break down, you need to back off and let your body heal and rest. I was talking to a friend and she refuses to taper off on her exercise schedule. Why? Because she is afraid her body will gain the pounds back. That won’t happen to her.
She has a great weight training and cardio exercise routine going but wait there’s more! She also plays in 2 sports leagues. Many days, she might do 4-5 hours of intense exercise. And, guess what? Her body is starting to break down in the predictable places—the joints. Knee problems, tendonitis and back problems are starting to affect her. If this type of pace is left unchecked, degenerative conditions, like arthritis, will happen to her body.
So, how much is enough exercise? Here are some general guidelines:
1. Do not work out every day. Take at least one day off each week. Three days of strength training (45 minutes to 1 hour each session) and 2-3 days of interval cardio exercise (20 minutes each session) is enough to burn fat and shape your body.
2. If your joints begin to hurt when you exercise, something is wrong! You are either injured or you just need to take a few days off. You will come back stronger after a little rest.
3. The more intense the exercise, the more rest your body needs to recover. For example, speed exercises and plyometrics (jump training) should be done 2 days a week at the most.
4. Change up your exercise routine (weekly) to avoid repetitive stress injuries. I have a friend who has arthritic knees because of years of doing mainly elliptical machine exercise.
5. “No pain, no gain” is NOT a good exercise philosophy. If you have sharp pain in your muscles, tendons, ligaments or joints, something is wrong! Get medical help.
In addition, According to National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD), females should look for these warning signs when it comes to exercise and over-training:
–Missed or irregular menstrual periods.
–Extreme or “unhealthy-looking” thinness.
–Extreme or rapid weight loss.
–Behaviors that reflect frequent dieting, such as eating very little, not eating in front of others, trips to the bathroom following meals, preoccupation with thinness or weight, focus on low-calorie and diet foods, possible increase in the consumption of water and other no- and low-calorie foods and beverages, possible increase in gum chewing, limiting diet to one food group, or eliminating a food group.
–Frequent intense bouts of exercise (e.g., taking an aerobics class, then running 5 miles, then swimming for an hour, followed by weight-lifting).
–An “I can’t miss a day of exercise/practice” attitude.
–An overly anxious preoccupation with an injury.
–Exercising despite illness, inclement weather, injury, and other conditions that might lead someone else to take the day off.
–An unusual amount of self-criticism or self-dissatisfaction.
–Indications of significant psychological or physical stress, including: depression, anxiety or nervousness, inability to concentrate, low levels of self-esteem, feeling cold all the time, problems sleeping, fatigue, injuries, and constantly talking about weight.
Exercise smarter, not just harder!
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Her Fitness Hut