1 / Snake it Easy
We all need a break. But just 24 hours of slouching will increase your blood pressure, while 30 days without exercise could even send it back up to pre-training levels, reports the University of Connecticut. Fight it with “the cobra”: lie on your front, then lift your upper body, rolling your shoulders back. A minute a day triggers anti-anxiety hormones and increases lung capacity.
2 / Man in the Mirror
Once you’re ready to get back in the gym, don’t expect to see instant results. “Your body will have adapted to its cushy new environment,” says PT Alex Davies. “If you’ve been off for a week, the time it takes to regain fitness will mirror those seven days. Just like an engine that hasn’t been used for a while, you’ll need to run your body in for a bit before you hit the accelerator.”
3 / Breathing Hard
If deadlines have kept you out of your runners as well as the gym, your lungs will take a hit. Two weeks of sedentary slothing reduces your muscles’ ability to use oxygen by up to 20 per cent, found a study in the journal Sports Medicine. On days when you have no time to move, eat low-salt meats with oxygen-boosting leafy greens. Call it tabletop damage limitation.
4 / Willing You Softly
Don’t court injury by trying to smash your first session like a CrossFitter with a point to prove on Instagram. Hastily trying to make up for lost time is a shortcut to the physio. “Instead, gently reintroduce some cardio to get your heart rate up,” says Davies. “Then do an all-over-body workout, such as a circuit class, so you aren’t over-stressing one set of muscles.” Maybe leave your phone in the locker for now.
5 / Keep on Rolling
Stretching will help put delayed-onset muscle soreness to bed. The American College of Sports Medicine advises four reps of stretches on each major muscle group, holding for 15-60 seconds. But if you can’t fit in a 45-minute cooldown, try a spot of foam rolling after legs day. Start at the calves and roll up each leg, halting where you feel a knot and increasing pressure until it relaxes. It’s a foam party your physio would appreciate.