We’ve all know someone, or maybe it is you, who starts a new exercise and/or weight loss program every New Years Eve or every birthday or every month. You may have noticed by now that this haphazard approach never works. You always have big plans for losing weight or getting in shape but never really get the idea that this involves a real lifestyle change and a real commitment.
Your body never has a chance. You start out like a house-a-fire, hurt yourself, and then sit around recuperating for however long it takes. Well guess what happens while you are recuperating? All of that hard earned muscle tone and flexibility fades away.
Wina Sturgeon wrote an article for the McClatchy-Tribune Service (July 21. 2010) about stop and start exercisers. The article, “Boomer workout: Stops and starts are bad for boomers,” cautions against using the start and stop method when it comes to health and fitness.
If you have been sedentary for years, it isn’t impossible to get in shape if you remember that there is a difference between what a 20-30 year old can do and what a 50-60 year old can do. You will soon notice that the biggest difference is the recovery time. Recovery time is considerably slower when you get older, and those aches and pains just might hang around forever.
The process is more involved than this, but I think you all understand the muscle tear part of the equation. When you do a hard workout, you damage the muscle fibers. When the muscle repairs itself, it becomes stronger. As you get older this process slows down. Cells don’t rejuvenate as quickly and instead of feeling stronger you may actually end up feeling weaker.
Many start and stop exercisers spend months doing very little physical activity, and then jump back in as if they hadn’t taken any time off at all. You ignore the nagging pains that may actually be signs of tendonitis or muscle strain. You push yourself harder than your body can handle and end up injuring yourself again.
Don’t make this mistake! If you have been sedentary, even if only for a few months, you have to work yourself back into a fitness routine slowly. Start out with two workouts a week for the first month, and then add another session the next month. Three sessions a week is all that the body can handle. If you haven’t worked out for years it may take six months or longer to build up your body again. But, it must be continuous. You can’t do this in fits and starts. Consistency is more important than the amount of work that you do. Starts and stops will just put you back on the couch.