Taking a week or two off from your exercise routine can have a big impact on your health.
Previous studies on the longterm effects of taking a vacation from the gym have shown that any of the negative health consequences are quickly reversed once you get back to your workout routine. But most of those studies were conducted with otherwise health young men and women in their early to mid twenties. So the damage done by taking it easy for a while could be different for older demographics.
As we reduce our amount of exercise, a couple of things happen. One is that our blood sugar rise, and another is that we develop insulin resistance (which can then lead to diabetes). In most young, healthy adults, a few days of exercise will help level out these effects and the body will return to normal. However, two new studies have revealed that people who are further along in life don't replicate these same results.
One study from the University of Liverpool took 45 adult men and women and asked them to significantly cut back on their physical activity for two weeks. All of the volunteers had been healthy and active before testing. During their period of inactivity, most developed the symptoms outlined above. For the most part, those symptoms were alleviated after they returned to their regularly active lifestyles, but a few of the participants experienced lasting insulin resistance and were unable to reach the level of activity they previously attained.
A separate study looking at inactivity in overweight adults over the age of 65 showed even worse results. In addition to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, some participants began to experience muscle deterioration. A few came dangerously close to developing diabetes and had to be removed from the study. For the most part their adverse effects of stillness weren't reversed once they began exercising again either.
So sticking to a steady gym routine could be crucial to maintaining your health.
H/T: The New York Times