How does body react to no exercise for a month?

No exercise for a month

What happens when there is no exercise a month for two weeks?

Life happens to every one of us, it is not always that everybody is able to work out or give time to exercising. Have you gone through a “No exercise for a month spell?” Well, there might be a myriad of valid reasons for not being on track exercise wise which may include shifting from one place to another, any injury, accidents, loss of dear ones, divorce or break up. It is not always easy to pull up and start working out. We may fool our brains but it is very important to be ready mentally for taking on the physical activity.

A rest day often turns into a couple of them and then the feeling of not doing anything creeps in and there you go with no activity for several days which brings in the following physiological changes.

Here is a timeline of what happens when you stop working out:

First 5-6 days: Loss in endurance and overall lethargy would creep up,

The first couple of weeks: Reduction in muscle mass thus increasing weight.

More than two weeks: Increased weight reduction in mobility

How does the body perceive “no activity”?

The first question that should be answered for the muscles is that ” hey, but you worked out yesterday, made me sore and now why you have stopped working out? Don’t you want me to gain strength and increase muscle mass.”? This is called as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) which you feel after you wake up the next morning after workout by the habit of which muscles think that they are not required the way they are, they need to become stronger. Suddenly if you stop exercising, the message which is received by the muscles is that their improved version is not required and it is ok to shrink and go back to normal.

How does the brain perceive “no exercise”?

Taking a day off would not change how your brain would function but prolonged duration of no exercise results in memory loss especially if you are in the old age bracket.

Physical activity is directly connected to brain health and this paper cites some interesting findings.

All About BDNF ( brain-derived neurotrophic factor ) and exercise

BDNF which is the most talked about thing in the fitness circuit and research circuit is nothing but a Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that serves as a fertilizer to the brain. 

It helps to maintain the life of the brain cells and also grows new cells if required. As against a theory where the brain was considered as not much dynamic organ, now the scientists believe that the brain is able to adapt, grow and change depending upon the activity levels that we expose it to. Neuroplasticity is the exact term that indicates the adaptability of the brain and it is said that BDNF helps the brain to keep its neuroplasticity intact. 

Exercise, studies have shown, leads to the release of proteins and other molecules from muscle, fat, and liver tissue that can affect levels of BDNF ( Brain-derived neurotrophic factor)  and other agents that spur neurogenesis, speed new-neuron maturation, promote brain vascularization, and even increase the volume of the hippocampus in humans ( As per thescientist.com).

More BDNF = Better neuroplasticity. 

How do I increase my BDNF?

source: https://positive.health/exercise-grow-new-brain-cells/

Being consistent with exercise is one of the surest ways to increase  BDNF. What is more interesting is how to keep up at it when you are off your usual fitness regime add in some interesting way to workout such as 

Trail running:

30 minutes of jogging is the best way to boost BDNF but trail running also helps to aid it especially if it is challenging. Challenging your brain while increasing its neuroplasticity is the cherry on the cake.

Dancing: 

Many people swear by it, learn new moves, and work your way up to fitness. If you are not a great dancer try Zumba, it is the best way to burn fat while being at the beats. You learn and earn your fitness in Zumba. If you love classical dance form, sign up for it. 

Functional Exercise: 

Do you remember working your way up to the monkey bars, crawling through the sliders and tunnels? People enjoy functional training like anything. Get that spartan race done or at least train for it. You will have a time of your life. Next time when you are waiting at the park for your little one grab that bar and start your functional training. 

Physiological Changes that happen due to not working out:

Grumpiness: 

The foremost sign of not doing workouts for longer than 4 weeks is that you feel grumpy without that happy hormone which workout generates. As per outsideonline.com, our body actually fights the challenges better when it is in the habit of working out. The body’s response to challenges is compromised when we leave it without much exercise. 

Rise In Blood Pressure:

Let us first understand what happens when we workout. With exercise, our arteries widen for better blood circulation and they also tend to stay larger for 24 hours. Without activity, you might tend to lose on the heart rate peaks bringing the blood pressure to baseline. 

In the short term, your blood pressure will change within a day depending on whether you work out or not. “With blood pressure, things happen very quickly, and they also cease very quickly,” says Linda Pescatello, a blood-pressure researcher at the University of Connecticut. Exercise causes increased blood flow, meaning your arteries temporarily widen to facilitate greater circulation. They tend to stay slightly larger for about 24 hours, but if you don’t get your heart rate up within a day, your blood pressure returns to baseline. (Reference)

Reduction in VO2 Max

As stated above reduction in VO2 max starts to happen when you stop working out which is a result of decreased cardiac output. It is said that the VO2 max drops 6-20%. But the good news is one can quickly recover the loss after training for some weeks. This loss is not permanent. 

How long does it take to lose muscles if you stop working out?

If you do not train for weeks, you tend to lose muscle mass. 3-4 weeks of the gap in training would result in muscle loss which may be quickly recovered as per the article 

Muscle memory plays an important part in bringing back the muscle mass due to detraining.

Reduced Flexibility

When we train, it is primarily for strength, endurance, and flexibility. If you are going through a period of detraining ( stalled workouts) as it is called the flexibility may reduce up to 20%. If you are doing Yoga and suddenly due to some reason you stop doing it you may tend to lose your flexibility. Bed rest or being immobile are reasons why muscle may tend to lose their form and result in atrophy ( Though it happens over a longer period than 3-4 weeks). Reduced flexibility is one of the key issues in the aged population.

Will I gain weight if I stop working out?

Weight loss or weight gain depends on what you eat. When it is a simple equation of calories in and calories out as mentioned in our weight loss for beginners, a little detraining or no exercise would not cause weight gain as long as you do not stuff yourself with loads of junk food. 

We usually workout for weight loss and reducing fat percentage. If you stop working out as mentioned below in this article, the calorie requirement of the body reduces quickly even before we realize it. Most of us detrain due to injury or some factors which we can not avoid. The first thing on our mind often is not calorie intake. It is just the survival, in that case, we might end up loading up those calories which are not required. This results in increases fat mass thus weight gain.

What to do to prevent muscle loss due to a stalled workout regime?

A stalled or stopped workout regime totally sabotages your efforts made in the direction of muscle tone/ muscle gain or weight loss. There are some incidents in life that may prompt you to stop working out for some time which is absolutely okay. Here is how you can prevent muscle loss and keep the momentum going.

What happens to the calorie requirement of the body?

The calories that need to be consumed for general metabolism need to be reduced as you stop working out. Naturally, you move less, your muscle mass will start reducing stalling the calorie burn which happens due to muscles. Additionally, if you eat as much as you were eating while working out, it tends to result in increased fat mass. Your clothes will fit snugly and scale also might show the difference. 

How to Balance the training needs and body requirements?

Sometimes the overburden of working out every day takes the whole fun out of it. You can comfortably prevent the ill effects of detraining by training only one day per week. Isn’t that a win-win? Keeping the training intensity the same, you can reduce the training volume ( the number of reps and sets) by 20-30%, reducing frequency is also a good choice.

The best part about detraining is that muscle loss can be regained back in some time given regular work out schedules and by understanding the requirements of the body.

Detraining can be tricky, take it as it comes. The added pressure of detraining would create more chaos. Exercise is for a better mind and body. Reminding yourself of your self-worth and not attaching it to exercise or anything for that matter is the most important aspect of healthy living.

Conclusion: 

There are a number of articles that detail the effects of detraining on the body. But the most important thing is to understand what happens to our body by experiencing it first hand. If you just let the effect of training go, it is going to be sabotaging your efforts and just disrespecting the why of your journey. It is always easy to tell someone to be consistent but very difficult to keep the momentum alive. Mix match, change your short term goals. Make them appear easy. Change the pattern of training but it is important to keep at it. Take a leisure break if you want, and get back at it with more vigor. Signing up for a hobby class that involves physical activity may also be helpful.

Remember, nothing is important for you than your well-being. If you are recovering from your injury like me, just take enough time, plan your goals for 3 months and keep at it. Having better mental health is a priority when you are injured. So, let us first be fit mentally. 

If you have any queries or questions regarding the article, please comment below. I would love to answer.

 

References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770965/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise

https://sci-fit.net/detraining-retraining

Top 3 Pilates Workouts to Tone The Abs

Have you heard about Pilates Workouts? You must have heard a lot of it since the last couple of years seeing all the celebrities using Pilates reformer for their workout regime. A lot of breath work and very controlled movements come in mind when anyone thinks of Pilates.

There are many ways to tone down the belly muscles but it is due to the controlled breathing and orchestrated movements in Pilates workouts that ensure results.

Pilates is not new now but it is not used very much in the fitness circle, mainly because it helps tone and does not contribute to weight loss as much as HIIT and other workouts.

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. As stated in self.com. In any form of workout, it is very difficult to tone and strength the core muscles which is the focus of pilates.

Should you be worried that you do not have Pilates Reformer? 

The answer is no! Pilates can be done on the mat. It is a series of movements performed keeping the breath in check. There are many pilates moves that can be easily done on a mat. 

What are the benefits of Pilates? 

There have been instances where there are years that are gone into hardcore workouts and still the body posture is not corrected. The core is not strengthened, there is still pain and discomfort after long hours of sitting. Pilates is one such workout which includes strength, flexibility along with core strengthening. Though the emphasis is on core strengthening, arms, and shoulders, the lower body also gets toned. What else we want? 

How should you start with Pilates?

Just grab a mat and start with beginner level Pilates workout videos as below and you get started. 

This one video of full body workout is amazing to just start with

How To Tone Abs?

In my opinion, the best take away from Pilates is the core strengthening. If you are actively wanting to lose some weight, combine Pilates with your cardio and strength workout regime. But if your aim is to tone the abs just keep doing pilates consistently with proper breathing technique. 

Denise Austin

I have been working out with Jillian Michaels with her DVDs, one of her DVDs had Denise Austin’s pilates and I have tried a couple of workouts, so here is the special mention of Denise Austin and below are her pilates videos. I find her voice very soothing.

Blogilates:

 
I have recently started working out with Cassey Ho on her app for #abchallenge. It is amazing. You have to do 100 reps of a particular exercise every day for 30 days. Giving the link below.

Move With Nicole:

Here is a 20-minute ab workout by Nicole. It is a very good and measured workout.

The one fact which we should not forget that abs are made in the kitchen. Despite working so hard if you are eating junk food, you might not see the results. 

Here are some online home workouts, please take a look.

 

How To Tone Your Arms Easily With These Arm Exercises without equipment

Who does not want Michelle Obama Arms? Well, yes that is the term and a keyword at that. One Ellen Degeneres Show, Ellen, the host, and Michelle Obama did a full set of 10 push-ups. Wonderful isn't it? Let me first tell you that Michelle Obama has a very good physique which is earned with some years of exercise. So what would tone your arms easily? Here are some workouts which would surely help you tone your arms if done regularly.

I believe in working out with someone even at home and I feel very grateful to all the online platforms available. Let us first understand the anatomy of the human arm:

Anatomy of Human Arm:

 

Tone Your Armsimage from google.com

Deltoid:

These muscles are in between elbow and shoulder in layman terms, on the upper side.

Biceps:

These are the most talked-about muscles in the fitness circuit and are just next to the deltoid muscles in simple terms.

Triceps:

The lower part of biceps is called as triceps. These are the most difficult to train muscles in my personal experience, no muscle definition of triceps results in bat wings (sagging of the skin below the arm)

Tone Your Arms

image from medicalnewstoday.com

Extensors: 

Extensors are the muscles on the forearm at the back of it. Slowly as the arms are toned, these muscles show up.

Flexors: 

These are the muscles on the forearm, which you see when you see your arm with wrist up. These muscles also sag when they are not trained properly.

My arms were always nice and chubby. They were never muscular and when I started building the first body part which showed up in a bigger way were arms. Suddenly big looking arms were a showdown for me. But once a specific amount of weight is lost, the arms are back in shape and they are quite a bit toned. I cannot say I have bat wings but if the arms are left untrained, it will not take much time for the skin to sag.

Which exercises would help tone the arms?

There are some specific exercises that help tone upper arms specifically biceps and triceps. The shoulders should also be toned along with the arm. Remember, there is no ways we can spot reduce. Overall body has to tone down for the effect to be shown on arms.

Before starting any specific arm exercise, make sure that you do not have any shoulder or arm injury.

I am suffering from frozen shoulder from past many years. It is always difficult to tone my shoulder and arms. Here are some exercises which would definitely help you get some toned arms.

Push Ups:

Tone your arms

image courtesy:POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

In my opinion, push-ups are a complete exercise.

It trains the following muscles:

  • Chest Muscles
  • Shoulders
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Abdominal muscles and
  • Muscles under the armpit.

If you cannot do pushups due to some injury try the push up progression like below:

Push Up Progression:

On the very first day it is simply not necessary to start doing push-ups in their full form. Start with wall push ups. Here is a nice infographic from Strength with sam

Triceps Dips:

One of my most favorite workouts which train triceps like a boss. The best part about these workouts is that you can do them anywhere. You do not need to go to the gym for the same.

POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

 

When you are trying to work with muscles, progression is the name of the game. It is not so easy to pull off a triceps dip at one go. Here is the progression that you should think about before attempting a triceps dip.

Image from www.gym-pal.uk

 

Shoulder taps:

This is a progression of pushups. And can be done as you are holding a plank for pushups. Along with arm muscles it also involves your core and glutes.

POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

Arm circles:

Simple arm circles whenever you feel like doing it is a great exercise to tone the arms. As the image shows it tones both upper arms and shoulders. Make sure you do them clockwise and anticlockwise.

Image from – Brightside

Pull ups:

Pull ups trains shoulders, biceps, triceps and core muscles. But it may need a bar to perform even a basic pull up. But we have an alternative here.

Pull ups and push ups are comprehensive full body exercises or so do I feel.

Apart from the above exercises, you can try these online workout programs which I have been following from the last many years.

Online Workouts:

Casey ho:

I am following Casey Ho from a long time and her workouts really work. She has been an inspiration. Please check her workouts on her channel called Blogilates.

Chloe Ting:

This is a lean arm challenge by Chloe Ting. Chloe is a kind of rage right now, you can join her Lean Arms Challenge on the following link.

Fitness Blender:

Fitness blender workouts are tried and tested by me at some point or the other. I like their workouts because they are carefully crafted. Here is upper body fitness blender workout for lean arms.

Killer Arms and Back  - Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels is a master of all moves when it comes to fitness. I love all her DVDs and here is a clip of her workouts which you can purchase as an app.

Heather Robertson:

I have not personally tried Heather Robertson’s workouts but have heard a lot about them. You can try this workout series for lean arms.

Recently, At the Superbowl, we saw Shakira and Jennifer Lopez rocking the stage post 40 years of age and our jaws dropped for sure. Yes, they have all the money in the world and many helpers to be in shape. But never forget, the self love that they have shown by being super fit at that age when most of the ladies are struggling with many issues including hormonal imbalances. Post 40 years of age we ladies grapple with many health concerns.

Let us always remember that we cannot pour from an empty cup. Let us get our task together. Use the above workouts to get along some 10 minutes workouts every day just for your arms. Slowly, you will find the body will respond and time will come when you get compliments.

The body is a wonderful machine; just give it the self-love it deserves. Today and always.

Home Gym Ideas – On Budget

A gym is a paradise for a person who loves to workout. Different types of equipment, the feel of strength that we get when we touch them, the energetic and strong vibe. Oh, all about it isn't it? The transformation stories which have made someone capable enough to take on that mental and physical transformation. Everything about Gym is special. It is a place where we spend that one hour out of the daily hustle of life.

It slowly becomes a place for worship quite literally.

The lockdowns have made it difficult for gym-goers across the world to actually go and do the workouts. It is a major roadblock for many of us especially those who love to workout in the gym and do not get the same feeling anywhere else. But, some type of types of equipment may surely make us feel good, if you have them at home. Something is always better than nothing isn't it??

What are the fitness goals?

Anybody who is looking forward to setting up a home gym first should assess what are their fitness goals.

Here are some goals that you may look into

Strength and Endurance

Developing strength needs a different type of exercise than bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercises also enhance strength but with some weights, the performance can be improved

Weight loss

Weight loss is a major fitness goal which you can achieve with either bodyweight workouts or weighted workouts 

Having appropriate cardio is also essential for weight loss

Flexibility

Achieving flexibility is one of the supreme goals for fitness lovers

Some people are naturally flexible, while some have to slowly achieve flexibility

Recovering from injury

If you have recently suffered from any injury, recovering from it can be one fitness goal.

Getting back to normal after an injury can happen with regular prescribed exercise.

Based on the above fitness goal you can decide what type of equipment you can have in your home gym.

Types of Equipment For Home Gym

Strength and Endurance

Start with dumbells of 2 up to 5 kgs if you are a beginner

Slowly build up with some basic barbells and 2.5 kg plates which can be increased to 5 kgs

A step board is the best addition to the above ensemble.

A good quality floor mat for basic stretches and floor exercises is a must.

Weight loss

Starting with just a floor mat and bodyweight exercises are good if you do not know what to expect.

Weight loss is overwhelming, and it is difficult to continue to efforts if you do not know where you are going

Choosing your workouts wisely is important

You can start with just a walk. Slowly add up some ankle weights.

Having 2-3 kgs dumbells and starting with strength training is important to prevent muscle atrophy (Degeneration of muscles in the long term)

Skipping rope is the best cardio equipment you can have for weight loss,

Flexibility

A comfortable yoga mat with some yoga props is the best way to go about Yoga which will in turn make you flexible.

It is indeed easier said than done but consistent practice will definitely help you with flexibility

Recovering from an injury

A good yoga mat for stretches and some floor workouts is the best thing if you are trying to recover from the injury.

Working out is not difficult if you have all the basics in place it becomes easier.

The above ideas for type of equipment are on a budget. Try it yourselves.

 

 

 

Home Gym Equipments
How To Integrate Fitness In Schedule? and how to make it a habit

How To Integrate Fitness In Schedule? and how to make it a habit

How To Prioritize Fitness In Busy Schedule and Actually Make It a Habit?

Everyone wants to be really fit! Fitness is a currency that you can use throughout your life. Life is uncertain, but fitness can make it proof for any difficult situation. The rise of pollution and various pandemics spare people who are fit and have an unbeatable immune system to generate appropriate antibodies. Boosting your immune system is the first thing we all need to do for facing the pandemic bravely. But before that, let us take a look at what is stopping us from being fit?

Busy Schedules

Busy schedules are the ones to be blamed for not making time for a workout. Believe me, I usually get to hear so many people talking to me about how busy they were throughout the week and could not sneak in a single hour for a workout. They feel overwhelmed with the fitness talk going around. It is ok to feel overwhelmed but there is always a first step that everybody takes to change their lives. Putting yourself first on the schedule is the first and foremost important thing.

Your lifestyle can be changed in one simple step. 

Once you are there, it is easy to lap up. While climbing always pay attention to the first step instead of looking at the entire anticipated journey.

Taking Up Difficult  Workouts to Start With

If you have taken that first step towards lifestyle change and integrating fitness in your schedule, bravo! But just be a bit cautious about not choosing a daunting task to perform every day. Just choose some workout routine which is easy to do every single day. Assess your fitness before you start your workout regime. Take a look at the workouts that you can do comfortably and start with it, else you will lack motivation. Daunting workouts would make you hate the whole process and you would never make an effort to come back to fitness regime again.

Misjudging Nutrition Requirement

Nutrition is an important aspect of fitness. But you do not need to get overwhelmed with all the information that keeps floating across the social media and other websites. Do not suddenly bring about change in your lifestyle for weight loss. In my opinion, following a particular diet suddenly is like giving a jerk to your body. If you want to start intermittent fasting, just give yourself a day, try it out, and then slowly start your regime.

Bringing back basics on your plate is important. Being fit is about having nutritious food and nurturing your body. Here are some superfoods that you can bring back to your kitchen to make the most of your fitness regime.

Eating every two hours also help to boost metabolism, thus burning more fat. If you are very busy meal planning can help multifold. It is the only way you can eat on time and in a prescribed way.

Most people feel tired after working out as they misjudge the nutrition required for their body.

Signing up with workouts that don't match the body type

I have been working out for a while now, but I could never get into Yoga. I tried yoga here and there but it just does not suit me. There are thousands of workouts available online and on apps, but do they suit you? It is very important to find out what suits you and your body type. I could never go about workouts which were slow. They would simply discourage me with their pace. Post-pregnancy it was tough for me to continue my gym membership, so I took a call and diligently identified the program that suits me. I tried many home workouts and found something that I am sticking to for the last many years.

Choosing comfortable workout clothing and shoes

Wearing comfortable clothes during workouts is important without that you would not be able to stick to any regime. The same goes for shoes. There are different shoes for running, athletics, HIIT, and so on. Choosing the right shoes will keep you motivated.

Plan wisely and integrate the workouts in your daily schedule.

Being a morning person

For years together I have struggled to be a morning person. But here is how I found how to get back to the morning routine and believe me it helps. Being a morning person aids your plans. It helps you to achieve all possible tasks before noon. No more hassles for completing tasks. You can tick on your to-do list comfortably being a morning person. Setting up the body clock rightly before starting the fitness regime is important. Once you set it correctly, all other things become easy.

 

Getting a fitness tracker

Fitness trackers are all rage. I love Fitbit as it tracks exactly the amount of calories that we have burnt throughout the day. Apple Watch is also a good product. Garmin is the best brand when it comes to fitness trackers. There are numerous products available in the market, to keep you on track and build fitness as a habit, integrating fitness into your daily routine.

Make up a mindset

Integrating fitness in your schedule is more about mindset, once you are ready to make a change in your lifestyle, it is just a matter of doing. Once you set your mind on the fitness aspect of your life, it is easy. A body transformation mindset is important. Life changes but you need to give it a chance.

These are some of the real struggles, I have rounded up here for you. Let me know if you feel the same and are willing to incorporate fitness in your daily schedule.