According to the MultiSport Index Pandemic survey, during social isolation nearly half of Poles (43%) significantly reduced their physical activity, and after it ended, they experience the impact of inactivity on their wellbeing, health, and body shape. Since the reopening of sports facilities, Poles have been working out more confidently every week. A sports cardiologist tells us how to get back into shape safely and healthily after a break, avoiding e.g. injury.
Effects of compulsory detraining
– Research shows that in the case of physically active people, a prolonged break in workouts causes more negative than positive changes. Contrary to appearances, this applies especially to less trained people, who will feel the effects of inactivity faster and with greater intensity – says Łukasz Małek, MD, Ph.D. – After discontinuation of physical activity, muscle mass decreases very quickly, even by 10% after a month of inactivity. The peak oxygen uptake, which is a measure of the body's efficiency, also drops at a rate of up to 0.5% per day. After just a few days, our heart starts to work faster in the resting mode, and the blood pressure also increases. If the reduction in the amount of daily exercise does not go hand in hand with changes in the diet, we quickly start accumulating body fat. Finally, the observed changes in body shape or the lack of endorphins release after exercise cause a decline in mood, anger, or frustration.
The calculations of the Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences show that in the peak period of social isolation with the most restrictive restrictions Poles gained half a kilogramme per week on average. According to Dr. Łukasz Małek, both weight gain and all the aforementioned processes also have a negative impact on the efficiency of the immune system, whose role is particularly important during the pandemic.
Train safely and healthy
Since physical activity should promote health, how can we safely return to regular training after a break? Here are four simple rules recommended by a sports cardiologist:
1. Start slowly
The worst thing we can do after a break in workouts is to try to “cheat” our body and start physical activity of the same or greater intensity from the beginning. Excessive effort without being properly prepared is burdened with a high risk of pain, muscle and joint injuries as well as other complications such as fainting, acute inflammatory reactions or a temporary decrease in immunity. We should start with lower loads as well as less intensity and length of training. It is also worth reducing the number of repetitions of planned exercises. We should start with moderately intense workouts (at 60-80% of our maximum capacity) during which we can easily talk.
2. Pay attention to warming up
Whenever starting physical activity, we should warm up well. It is a mandatory element of every workout. However, when we return to exercising after a break, we should pay special attention to warming up, which prepares our muscles, joints, and tendons for movement, reducing the risk of injury.
3. Listen to your body and be patient
We should monitor our body and adjust the level of activity to how we feel. The time for stronger workouts will finally come. In the beginning, our heart rate will increase faster, we will tire more quickly, we will sweat more, and we will be out of breath – this is normal. It is important to adjust the effort to our current possibilities.
4. Increase your immunity and follow recommendations
Among its many health benefits, regular physical activity increases the body's immunity. This can make us less susceptible to more severe forms of viral disease, also due to the lower presence of negative risk factors (e.g. obesity, hypertension, and others). So, let's get back to activity, but following sanitary recommendations in sports and recreational facilities. In this way we increase the safety of ourselves and others. Remember to keep social distance, wash your hands, and disinfect sports equipment after each use. Let us give up activity when we have a cold and feel a decrease in physical wellbeing.
Detailed information on safety measures in sports facilities as well as materials related to physical activity can be found on the website dedicated to the educational and image campaign called “We’re glad you’re here.” https://www.kartamultisport.pl/dobrze-ze-jestes/