Why Consistency Matters With Exercise

It's common wisdom that missing a workout session makes it harder to get back to it the next day, but the New York Times points out that it's not as cut-and-dry as simple motivation. A number of other factors show how important consistency is when sticking to a workout.

Picture: Vince Viloria/Flickr

Keeping a tight schedule with exercise matters, because when you skip a lot of days in a row, the health benefits start to dissipate. At first, this is just a decrease in the positive metabolic aspects, but skipping exercise eventually affects motivation and endurance, and it can increase injury:

Endurance also fades if you skip exercising for too many days in a row. The same is true, sadly, with motivation. In study after study, researchers have found that one of the primary reasons people continue exercising is that they enjoyed yesterday’s exercise or the exertions of the day before; they felt healthier and more physically masterful afterward and wish to relive that sensation. Longer periods between exercise sessions potentially could dull that enthusiasm.

Similarly, there is some evidence that injury rates can rise after a multiday layoff, especially in activities requiring well-honed technique. A 2011 study of circus performers found that two-day breaks between performances lessened injury rates, but the rates rose again if performers rested for three days or more.

The fact is that you don't want to miss more than a couple days in a row if you can help it. Motivation alone is tough to get back after that, but the health effects are just as important. It's a good thing working an exercise routine into your schedule isn't too hard.

Ask Well: How Often to Exercise [New York Times]


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