If you’re used to working out every day, or even a few times a week, having to take a break in your fitness routine isn’t easy. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of fitness for many people. Gyms across the country have been closed. Classes have been canceled. Some fitness centres are at risk of not reopening.
Any break in your daily routine can feel disrupting and annoying, but when it comes to fitness, it can make you feel less like yourself and may even affect your motivation and your mood.
So if you do have to take a break, how can you get through it? Here’s the good news; it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your fitness goals, and it doesn’t mean you need to suddenly change everything.
With that in mind, let’s go over a few ideas that can help you to cope with taking a break from your fitness routine.
When To Take A Break
Sometimes, you might need to take a break from your fitness routine for your own health and wellbeing. That might sound counterproductive, considering working out is supposed to aid your health. But the most important thing you can do is to listen to your body. Some of the most common reasons to take a break from working out include:
- Loss of motivation
Actually, taking small breaks from regular exercise can be a good thing for your body. It allows your muscles to repair and can actually make you stronger. But prolonged breaks can start to “undo” all of the hard work you’ve put in. Fitness cannot be stored up. If you’ve ever heard the saying, ‘use it or lose it,’ that rings true when it comes to working out consistently. Taking too long of a break can affect different areas of your body sooner than you might think. You can lose muscle mass quickly, gain weight, and it can even impact your eye health or contribute to common vision problems.
But if you’re pushing yourself too hard or your body is hurting, breaks are important for healing. You might also find that you need more frequent breaks as you age, as both energy levels and metabolic levels tend to decrease as you get older.
Adapt And Adjust Your Routine
You may find yourself needing to take a break for reasons out of your control. First, there are external factors that can throw a wrench into things. For example, maybe the gym you go to every day has closed down — either temporarily or permanently. Many people across the country had to deal with this as a reality thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another external factor that could impact your fitness routine includes not having room at home to workout. If you’re not able to go to the gym and you don’t have space at home, you don’t necessarily have to use it as an excuse to give up on your routine. Instead, try adapting and switching things up. One of the best ways to do that is to get outside.
Exercising in nature has many benefits like:
- Reducing fatigue
- Preventing burnout
- Improving cognitive health
- Increasing energy
It may not be the type of workout you’re used to, but finding ways to be active outside is a great way to stay fit. Try going on a hike, playing a sport, or going for a jog.
As an added bonus, getting outside will give you a boost of Vitamin D! Not only can that help to improve your mood and energy levels, but it can also help to prevent brittle bones.
If other external (or internal) factors are keeping you from your typical routine, don’t be afraid to get creative. Find ways to adapt that don’t cause you to completely give up on exercise. You might need to modify your routine by doing it somewhere else, taking things slowly, or decreasing the amount of impact. But, it’s better to adjust rather than to stop completely. If you need to find the motivation to workout at home, try different home-based workout challenges or join thousands of others who turn to YouTube for their daily workout. Channels like FitnessBlender offer hundreds of different workouts you can try every day, and their website even has forums where you can interact with other people doing the same routines.
Focus On Your Mental Fitness
If you do have to take a break from your fitness routine for any reason, don’t use it as an excuse to stop taking care of your mental fitness, too.
For many people, regular exercise is a natural way to deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It’s also a great way to alleviate stress. Taking a break from physical exercise can have a negative impact on your mental health if you don’t take steps to cope in healthy ways.
If possible, make sure you’re getting at least some form of daily physical activity to give your mental health a boost. Even taking a walk around the block is better than nothing. Additionally, find other ways to stay “mentally fit” while you’re taking a break from your exercise routine. Some ideas to focus on your mental health include:
- Writing in a journal
- Doing things you enjoy
- Talking to friends/family about how you feel
- Seeking out help from a counselor or therapist
It’s easy to ignore how closely tied physical exercise and mental health can be. But for some people, the two go hand-in-hand. Whatever the reason for your break, don’t let it negatively impact your mental health. In fact, if you do have to take a break from physical exercise, use the time to place extra focus on mental fitness.
Remember, taking a break doesn’t mean you’re letting go of your fitness routine permanently. It doesn’t matter how long your break has to be. It doesn’t matter why you have to take one, in the first place. Instead of focusing on your frustration, keep looking forward. Think about how you’re going to get back on track, stay motivated, and get through this break so you can start again and be stronger than ever.