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It is always easier to say, “I’ll work out tomorrow,” but research shows that as little as a one- or two-week break from regular exercise, combined with too much sedentary time, can deteriorate fitness and cardiometabolic health.
- Less than one week of detraining can negate 10 weeks of favorable training adaptations.
- Within three to six weeks of stopping exercise, older adults experience a significant decline in functional performance (36 to 70 percent reduction) and muscle strength (60 to 87 percent reduction).
The American Council on Exercise has five evidence-based strategies for those times you find it difficult to get moving—even though you know you should.
1. Walk at least one mile every day.
Research shows eight miles a week is the magic number to maintain body weight and cardiometabolic health. Maintaining a minimum dose of physical activity (burning at least 100 calories per day) will help you stay healthy.
2. Carve out 12 minutes a week.
Strapped for time? Research shows 30 seconds to five minutes of high-intensity exercise improves health outcomes in a shorter weekly time.
3. Commit to a long training session every two weeks.
More than one third of U.S. adults have prediabetes—and prolonged exercise is the best medicine. It can be difficult to fit 90 minutes of moderate activity into your schedule, but a biweekly extended training session will significantly benefit your health.
4. Have a desk job? Take walking breaks.
Too much sedentary behavior during the day can be just as hazardous as skipping the gym entirely. For every hour of sitting, take a five-minute break of light physical activity.
5. Mix the perfect cocktail of aerobic and resistance training.
Despite the best intentions, some amount of physical inactivity can be unavoidable. Combining aerobic and strength training throughout the year can set you up for success.