If you’ve ever changed up your workout routine and gone without for a few days or weeks, you’ve no doubt noticed the difference when you returned! It actually doesn’t take long at all for your fitness levels to drop if you change your exercise schedule – in fact, after just one week without exercise you could lose half of your usual fitness. Strength can drop considerably after two to three weeks without exercise, and in one study endurance cyclists took in 20% less oxygen after four weeks of inactivity. Of course, there are several factors that can affect how quickly or slowly your fitness will drop off, including your age and genetic makeup.

How often is enough?

You may only get benefits from a workout for about 48 hours afterwards. After that, it’s time to hit the gym, pavement or swimming pool again to ‘top up’ the benefits. It’s best to try and cover all three aspects of exercise regularly, between cardiovascular fitness, strength training and working on your flexibility and balance.

Going on holiday or travelling for work?

If you’re going to be away from home for anything longer than a few days, it’s definitely worth getting active while you’re away. Many city hotels offer swimming pools and gyms so you can work up a sweat wherever you’re located. If you need inspiration, there are plenty of workout videos on YouTube.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have access to a gym, either. By going for a run every morning you’ll not only keep up your aerobic fitness but you’ll also see the city you’re staying in. You might even try using items in your hotel room for weight and resistance training.

What if I’m sick or injured?

Walking, swimming or light jogging is great if you’re recovering from an illness. If you’re suffering from a broken bone or damaged muscle or tendon, it’s wise to adapt your workouts around this so the rest of your body doesn’t miss out. A personal trainer can be invaluable in tailoring custom workouts around injuries and recovery.

Left it a few months or longer?

Never fear – it’s not too late to get moving again! Many of us have periods in life where we’re unwell or busy, which can sometimes impact on a healthy exercise routine. The important thing is to get started again instead of giving up. If you’ve been inactive for some time, results in fitness and strength gain and weight loss will actually be even more noticeable than if you were super fit ­– a factor known as ‘newbie gains’! Use these noticeable benefits to stay motivated and reset your routine until exercise feels like a part of your regular routine again.