You’ve heard it once and you’ll probably hear it a thousand times more – consistent exercise is important to your health. But why is it and why should we have consistent training workout routines?
Other than the obvious, the single biggest reason why consistent exercise and, more importantly, consistency in training has everything to do with injury prevention.
Sporadic Physical Activity Increases Pain & Soreness
When you start working out or you change your workout routine, it usually leads to muscle soreness. Muscle tightness and soreness are not always precursors to injury. However, it doesn’t exactly make you want to exercise again depending on the pain. Moreover, tight muscles are more prone to injury. There’s only so much stretching you can do to alleviate tightness before it becomes a problem. Keeping a consistent workout routine helps prevent tightness in the muscles, which leads to better performance.
Furthermore, the more inconsistent your exercising, the more you’re likely to fatigue. Fatigue is one of the major culprits of both acute injuries and overuse injuries. Inconsistency can lead to both undertraining and, believe it or not, overtraining. Both under and overtraining are precursors to injury. While it makes more sense that inconsistent exercise is undertraining, overtraining occurs when you do too much too soon. This is extremely stressful on your body, which leads to burnout and injury.
Gradual intensity leads to optimal results as well as preventing injury and fatigue. As you build up your strength, flexibility, and endurance, your body is able to handle more stress. Its able adjust to the strains of the physical activity. Without consistency, however, your body will not be able to adjust efficiently to prevent strains from turning into injuries.
Yes – Too Many Rest Days Increases Injury Risk
While overtraining is doing too much too soon, undertraining is not doing enough to prepare your body for tougher and more strenuous workouts. Again, the result is the same – fatigue, burnout, and injury.
Not doing enough to keep your body physically fit can range from doing too little during your workouts to taking too many rest days in between your workouts.
Taking a day or two to recover depending on the activity is essential for remaining healthy and injury-free. However, there are limits to rest days and going beyond those limits increases your risk for injury. A 2011 study showed that 1-2 days of rest decreased injury rates. However, those rates increased substantially every day that the participants forwent exercise.
Consistent exercise and training are the only ways to prevent chronic pain and soreness, as well as over and undertraining.
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The Bottom Line On Consistent Exercise
We hear all the time that we need to be consistently exercising to reap the benefits. What are the benefits?
- You’ll live longer.
- You decrease your risk of health issues like cardiovascular disease.
- You’re less likely to experience chronic pain.
- You increase your immune system.
- You’re happier.
The list of benefits to exercise really does go on and on. Even though many of us are aware of these benefits and are told to consistently exercise, there’s a huge misunderstanding on what consistency even is when it comes to fitness.
Consistency doesn’t just mean doing the same thing for the same amount of time day in and day out. After all, muscle growth only comes from the right amount of stress. The body eventually adjusts to the stress of exercise if you don’t increase it gradually. Therefore, consistency is really:
- A routine that you stick to every week that incorporates strength training, cardiovascular endurance training, and recovery;
- Gradual intensity that pushes your body but doesn’t overdo it;
- Incorporates different kinds of exercise that are at a relative intensity appropriate for your fitness level.
Putting together a weekly workout or training routine that you stick to and that’s balanced is the only way to stay injury-free and physically fit.