Does this scenario sound familiar: You skip one workout session that leads to three months of avoiding gym altogether, leaving you out of shape and gasping for air simply walking to the car?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. No matter your fitness motivation, life sometimes gets in the way and you feel too overwhelmed, overworked or stressed to go to gym.
However, if your off days are surpassing your gym days, then you should reconsider your strategy.
Working out regularly and staying fit is key to enjoying both good mental and physical health. In fact, it’s been proven that being active can help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
A week of skipping gym won’t get you into trouble. Many professionals even encourage occasionally resting your body. However, studies have shown that within 14 days of skipping gym in a row, your body’s fitness levels, lean muscle mass and insulin sensitivity significantly lowers.
Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t skip gym:
You become unfit: Depending on your fitness levels, it takes on average two weeks for your body’s cardiovascular fitness and lean muscle mass to decrease. To avoid losing out on all the hard work you’ve put into reaching your fitness goals, go to gym as soon as you’re able to.
Habit: Humans are creatures of habit and if you don’t keep to your routines, chances are that you’ll abandon them altogether. Therefore, it’s best to set out a workout routine and stick to it. Skipping gym sessions regularly can be a slippery slope.
Exercise high: After a good workout your body releases ‘feel good’ chemicals: endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals help relieve stress and battle depression. Regularly skipping gym can only make problems appear bigger than they are, while a good workout session can help you put things into perspective.
Long-term benefits: Exercising isn’t a one-day solution, it should be a lifestyle. The benefits of long-term exercising include lower chances of contracting chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. So, for the sake of your body and mind, don’t miss out on your workouts too often.
It’s clear that skipping gym too often isn’t ideal. We’ve put together a few simple tips on how you can stick to your workout schedule:
Make gym fun again: many people get bored by the monotony of going to gym and doing the same routine every day. Spice things up by joining a new class like Zumba or trying new ways to keep fit like going on a hiking trip with friends.
Start small: learn to walk before you run, or in other words, don’t overdo it. Avoid over exhausting your body as this can negatively affect your fitness motivation. Set smaller reachable goals and gradually increase them.
Try the buddy system: working out with the support of a friend not only makes exercising more fun, but making a commitment to go to gym with someone else makes it harder to skip sessions. Find below a list of things to look out for when choosing your workout buddy.
What you should look for in a workout buddy
Having a workout buddy can benefit you: they can motivate you to exercise even harder, thereby reaching your goals quicker.
However, looking for a perfect workout partner should be a process and not a whim. It needs to be someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Look out for these when choosing your next partner:
Get along with your partner: Your workout buddy should ideally be someone you enjoy spending time with. If you don’t get along with them, then you’ll end up finding reasons not to work out together. But if you enjoy spending time with your exercise partner, then you’ll be more inclined to work out, getting through your routine faster.
You should be equally fit: It helps if your partner is at the same fitness level or even fitter than you. A fitness buddy can act as a mentor, providing a tangible example of what you’d like to achieve. And by studying your partner, you’ll also gain more knowledge and be more familiar with fitness, exercise routines and form.
Have a positive attitude and be a go-getter: When your fitness partner assists you during a workout or pushes you to your limit, then you can end up being even more motivated. It’s beneficial for partners to believe in each other and share this positivity with one another.
Share similar motivational styles: The motivation style that you need must match those of your buddy. They need to push you to what you are comfortable with. Otherwise you’ll overexert yourself which may cause you to lose your drive to exercise further.
Match your schedule: Because we all have busy lifestyles, you must ensure that your schedules don’t clash. Your workout buddy should have a training schedule that matches yours. This way you’ll always be available for each other.
Spot a bad workout partner: Having a workout buddy should be an advantage to your life. If a partner is usually late, spends more time on their phone or uses illegal performance enhancing drugs, then it’s best to cut your losses. The goal of working out with another person is to build and grow together, but as soon as you’re feeling dragged down, then it’s time for you to find someone else.
Next time you feel like skipping gym, think about what you could be missing in terms of health and fitness, especially if it’s a workout with someone there to help push and motivate you.
Ryno is the content coordinator for GetSavvi Health medical insurance. He regularly writes about health and lifestyle topics and manages GetSavvi Health’s social media pages. A Journalism graduate from the University of Pretoria, he worked as a hard news journalist before making his way to marketing. He loves his two beautiful Labradors, and when he is not walking them on the beach, he’s probably trying to follow his own health and lifestyle advice by trading in the take-aways for a healthy, home-cooked meal.