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What happens when you stop your regular exercise routine?

As most of you know, I recently went on a cruise to Fiji and Tonga.

I had great plans to dedicate an hour a day to Essentrics while on the cruise for two reasons:

  1. I had to learn my routines, so when I came back from holiday I was ready to teach them to you!

  2. To keep my body moving the way it is used to. I know how it feels when you stop for a while, your body feels heavy and harder to move.

Like most best made plans, things did not turn out as I had hoped. Whilst I could do a little bit every now and then, it was difficult to carry it out on a daily basis. Not only because there were lots of things to do (especially when we went ashore for the day), but also due to lack of space in the cabin and a daughter who was a cling on!

I know many of you travel a lot and some of you for long periods of time. It is impossible to keep to your usual exercise routine when you are abroad. Obviously I am basing this blog on my cruise, but it doesn’t matter whether you are on a ship, in a hotel in whatever country or your own country. A holiday is a holiday break no matter where!

So take note what happens to your body when you stop doing Essentrics.

Here is what I noticed during our 2 week term holiday break and then the 2 week cruise:

The first thing I noticed and to be honest is still affecting me today is my lower back. The hard beds and pillows in the cabin didn’t do me any favours. The first 2 days of the cruise I managed to do a few Essentrics stretches, but not as much as I would be, if at home taking classes. So, it wasn’t until the 4th day in that I noticed the pain in my lower back. This was at the same time we started to go to the different islands and were gone for the whole day. I didn’t get a chance to do any stretches – what a BIG mistake that was.

From there my back continued to ache, I did a few stretches that helped keep it at bay with a few niggles here and there but by the end of the cruise, my back was really sore. As soon as I got home I started doing more Essentrics. At the time of writing this, it is my 4th day home, the ache/pain is still there. I taught my first class back yesterday, so I am eager to see how soon my back settles down once I am back into my usual exercise routine. (Update – after 3 classes my back felt better. This is 3 classes day after day, not week after week)

My knees also started playing havoc (again not being able to do my regular exercise schedule). I did walk the stairs of the ship every day and many times during the day. If any of you have been on a cruise ship you will realise there are MANY MANY stairs! Our family used the stairs to go up and down ALL the time, I think from memory we only used the elevator about 4 times. To give you an idea: The main reception area on the ship was Level 5, the restaurant and entertaining area for live shows was Level 7, our cabin was Level 9, the food court and pools were Level 12 and the Kids Club was Level 14. Not to mention that the areas you needed to get to were often at either ends of the ship. The Pacific Jewel is 245m long. There is much more to a ship, but they were the main areas we frequented.

I also did a lot of walking around the ship in the hope of keeping my fitness up, but have to admit I also had some lazy times reading my book, drinking cocktails while listening to music or watching a movie (which is why I went!)

I noticed the pain in my knees about 5 days in, I didn’t take any support bandages with me as I didn’t think I needed to, but I was amazed that even though I was still using my quads (meaty thigh group muscles at the front of the leg) to walk up and down the stairs, I wasn’t doing any specific moves like we do in class that help strengthen the tendons and ligaments around the knees.

My neck – I put this down to hard pillows and them not being the usual height that I normally use. At home I use one pillow, but one pillow on the ship was too low, so I used two. Whilst I did do some stretches for my neck I most certainly didn’t do them as much as I should have.

Gosh, I sound like a right off don’t I? Ha, ha ha :)

No, I wasn’t, I still got around and enjoyed the cruise very much, I just wanted to share how my body reacted to not having its usual intake of Essentrics and the functional movement that Essentrics provides.

Imagine what I would have been like if I had done NOTHING?

I also wanted to point out that you really don’t realise how much you get from doing Essentrics until you stop doing it, week by week it keeps our bodies moving without pain. I guess I take it for granted, maybe because I am an instructor and I do Essentrics more than the average participant that my body will not be affected so much if I stop for a wee while…….ummmmm WRONG!

Let’s delve into the science behind lack of movement - what happens when you stop doing your regular exercise routine? Loss of flexibility is really noticeable (think of any of our cool down stretches, where you used to be able to do a lot more before going away, maybe the lying leg circles where you used to be able to do a big circle and be lower to the ground, but after being away you are not so flexible. Or you used to be able to stretch the back of your leg more (bring it closer to your head) in the hamstring stretches). Loss of flexibility is common and this can happen when missing just one week of class! You can also feel more sluggish and stiff, I know I certainly felt sluggish, due to the amount of food too! So imagine what happens after more than a week? Eeeek!!!

You can also lose muscle mass, when you exercise regularly, you're gaining muscle, so when you stop for a certain amount of time you lose it. According to Doctor Google - the book “Sports-Specific Rehabilitation” reports that endurance athletes such as rowers took up to 12 weeks to lose muscle mass. On the other hand, power lifters, competitive weightlifters and football players can lose muscle strength as early as two weeks with inactivity. May 5, 2011” 2 weeks, that’s not long, wow!!!

Regular exercise keeps our body flexible and makes things easier for everyday life.

It’s easy to see how some people after being away from exercise after a long period of time can take so long to try and get back into it. When you are feeling sluggish, non motivated, stiff – you don’t want to do anything, especially any type of cardio exercise.

Thank heavens for Essentrics, it’s a nice way to get back into things and it doesn’t take long to get yourself back into your routine. The first class back is always the hardest and you think “oh gosh this is hard” to the second class back and you think, “Oh this wasn’t as hard as last week” Why? Because you got your body moving again, because you woke it up so the more classes after that (especially doing the same routine) becomes easier. Until of course I change the routine! :)

I do know that when I am back teaching my regular classes my body will thank me for it, I know that my back will no longer ache, my knees will be stronger and that neck pain will disappear.

If it helps me in this way, imagine how it helps you? So, bring it on!