Never give up

Published 1:16 am Friday, April 11, 2003

By Staff
Question of the week: I am a middle-aged woman who works out on and off. My problem is that I get into a routine then something will come up and I am out of the exercise mode for a week or two. Then I feel like I have lost everything I have worked for and feel helpless. What should I do?
So what are you to do if you have missed a few aerobics classes or have stopped lifting for a month? First off you should never give up. Even if you have to start all over again it is better than not working out at all. Know that interruptions will happen. No matter how well we plan out our lives, things always pop up. Just because you are out one day of exercise does not mean you should give up. If you miss a day at the gym because you are too busy then just accept it and continue with the next day.
What if you are running short on time? Be prepared! If you are running late and only have 15 or 20 minutes to spare, use it. If you cannot get to the gym go for a walk at home or at work – up and down a couple flights of stairs. Lean against a wall and do standing wall push-ups. There are millions of substitutes. If you cannot make the gym in the morning try for the evening.
Are you bored yet? Doing the same routine day in and day out may get very boring. Add variety to your workouts; change them around. Push yourself to a harder intensity or longer duration.
You are number 1! Besides making mental notes about when you are going to work out, write it down in a place you frequently look at. Exercise is something that everyone needs in his or her life. To deprive yourself of exercise is like depriving yourself of food and water.
What really happens to your body when you slack off from exercise?
After about one week of missing exercise you will not see a major change. Many times regular exercisers will take a week off to let their body recuperate. In return it will be stronger when you go back.
After one month when you go back to the gym you may be breathing a little harder than before. You will lose a little aerobic and strength capacity but nothing detrimental.
After three months you will need to take it slowly. You will be in the retraining mode. You will have lost a significant amount of aerobic and muscular capacity. You need to go slow during your comeback because you are at a greater risk for injuries.
After six months of no exercise you are starting back at square one! You are at the point when you first began working out. Your aerobic capacity will be in the beginning stages and the muscle tone you gained will be gone.
Looking at this, it is definitely beneficial to stay up with regular exercise as often as you can. It would be very disappointing to work so hard to achieve your fitness goals and then have to start at square one again. It is hard enough getting started with exercise let alone having to start from the beginning twice.
Amy McKean is the adult programs director at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. She can be reached at