One of the cardinal rules of exercise – being consistent – is also among the most neglected. Like yo-yo diets, yo-yo workouts are a worryingly common trend despite people being keen to improve their health and fitness.
The term yo-yo workouts refers to the phenomenon of setting up very challenging goals in the beginning and slipping back to the old lifestyle after a while. This ends up doing more damage to your body than you realise. Here’s why:
You tend to gain weight
Periods of intense workouts followed by long spells of inactivity stimulate fat cell production in the body, leading to weight gain. This weight can be harder to lose compared to weight that is acquired from other reasons when people resume exercise after a hiatus. A study by the California-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the effect of irregular exercise schedule on weight found that the “key to staying trim is to remain active year-round, year-after-year, and to avoid seasonal and irregular exercise patterns.”
It puts the body under strain
Sudden rounds of intense training put the body under a great deal of strain—the reason fitness coaches advise you to start with moderate levels of exercise and graduate slowly. Intense bursts of activity, be iexcersi or Tabata, followed by days or even weeks of inactivity are the hallmarks of yo-yo gymming. This puts the body under a great deal of pressure. It is better to start light and raise the intensity of your workout to levels that can be sustained rather than begin with something drastic and give up.
You eat more
One of the adverse effects of yo-yo gymming is an increased appetite. According to the United States National Academy of Sports Medicine, “If you work out very intensely for very short periods of time your body will not have adapted well to that programme. Studies show that people often tend to overeat and gain more weight after doing yo-yo exercise routines.”
Your mood becomes erratic
We all know that one of the reasons why we should exercise is to facilitate the release of endorphins, which reduce stress and improve the mood. A break in your exercise schedule brings down energy levels and leads to decreasing levels of mental positivity. Sudden bursts of activity followed by inactivity lead to a rise and decline of endorphins, making you prone to mood swings.
It is important to be regular with exercise to experience lasting benefits. Yo-yo workouts end up undoing all the good work that you have done by adversely affecting your workout results.