Taking a break from exercising can impact your fitness in many ways. Allowing your body to rest can be beneficial if you’re experiencing pain or soreness. However, prolonged interruptions to your workout routine can also significantly decrease the muscular strength, aerobic power, and flexibility you’ve gained over time.
While it could take up to two months of inactivity to significantly lose the progress you’ve made, aerobic fitness can decline much more quickly. According to Active.com, “It takes about seven to 14 days for your aerobic fitness to start declining.” Some endurance athletes feel they start losing aerobic fitness after two days.
In addition to the duration of your exercise break, your level of fitness will also affect how much it will decline if you go on a hiatus. People who have built up a high level of aerobic fitness by consistently exercising over the course of several years will maintain their fitness for several months longer than someone who has just started exercising. However, the opposite is true when it comes to muscular strength: those who have higher levels of muscular strength will experience a more rapid decrease in fitness during their first three weeks of idleness.
Despite these potential setbacks, taking a break from exercising can impact your fitness beneficially in some cases. If you experience prolonged fatigue, physical exhaustion, soreness, pain, or poor performance, taking a break could give your body the rest it needs to heal and recover. In addition, if you’re not feeling motivated to train, a short break could help you get in the right mental state to begin reaching for your highest potential again.
Ultimately, the impact that taking a break from exercising will have on your fitness depends on the duration of your hiatus, your fitness level, and your current state of health. As such, you should consider all of these factors before deciding whether or not you want to take a break from your workout regime.