Here’s What Three Weeks Without Exercise Did to Me

Alyssa Atkinson

And what it can do for you.

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Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash

I am a creature of habit. For as long as I can remember, I have always been extremely set in my ways and craved routine.

For example, when I was in high school, I had to wake up at exactly 7 AM each morning. I would brush my teeth, change into my outfit for school (which I had carefully laid out the night before), eat a bowl of cereal, grab my backpack, and rush out the door.

This schedule allowed me just enough time to drive to school, park, and make it to class on time while still squeezing in as much sleep as I could. And every single minute was precious. Now, this may make it seem like I had the perfect morning routine. Honestly, that was far from the case. My mornings were always chaotic, but that's not the point.

Eventually, once I got to college, I was forced to drop my carefully crafted routine in every way except one. Every single day, I ran. I was part of the cross-country team, and we had scheduled practice which forced me to get outside and exercise. Sometimes, I had to work out at 5 or 6 AM with my teammates. Those were the mornings that I found it most difficult to get out the door.

Other times, we practiced at around 3:30 PM, which suited me much better. Now, I strongly prefer exercising in the morning between 8 and 10 AM, which allows me time to get a few hours of work in and let my body wake up before I go run. However, there was one specific period of time where I took a serious break from exercise.

When I reached the end of the cross-country season my sophomore year of college, everything about my exercise routine changed. My teammates and I were all given a two week break from running to recharge before indoor track started up. And a tight quad kept me out for a little longer.

What happened to me as a result of almost three weeks without exercise was much different than I expected, and it will give you a glimpse of what could occur if you break your workout routine as well.

I became more productive with my work.

Without the constant exhaustion that resulted from pushing my body hard each day, I noticed I had more energy to devote to getting a couple extra hours of work done. On top of that, I was more efficient with my time. I made fewer mistakes and my work was more polished.

I replaced my long tempo runs and grueling intervals with coding, math equations, and other things that challenged my mind rather than my body.

Now, I don't find this to be true when I just run easy each day. In fact, I feel that easy runs help me think more clearly. I think it was the fact that I was doing extremely hard workouts every week which pushed my body to the point of exhaustion.

If you too are feeling tired and burnt out from exercise, it might be time to take a rest day and put more time into your other hobbies. And do not feel guilty about it either. A rest day is not just for your body. It is also for your mind.

I could not break free of this feeling.

No matter what I tried to fill my time with, there was still a sense of laziness that I couldn’t shake. Even when I got two weeks ahead on all of my class assignments, I felt like I was doing nothing with my time. This taught me how essential exercise is for me personally to be my happiest and healthiest self.

Even though running was temporarily gone from my life, I knew it would be back soon enough. Thus, knowing what sparks joy in your life is crucial to finding your best self. Find it, appreciate it, and do as much of it as you can, while you can.

I had more time for the following things.

I love to cook and bake, but when I got to college, that hobby got pushed to the bottom of my never ending to do list, until I couldn’t even remember the last time I made a fresh batch of brownies.

During my break from exercise, I found myself with a lot more free time. I rekindled my passion for cooking up delicious recipes, and I even kept up with it after my break. Now, I have taken a leap of faith, and I share my healthy, vegan recipes with the world through my blog, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube channel.

Not being able to run for weeks turned out to be exactly the push I needed to get back to some of the other joys in my life that I had neglected. This eventually led to me pursuing them now, about five years later, because I truly do love sharing recipes with the world.

And it could do the same for you. You have to take a break from the things that are no longer serving you in order to find the things that are.

I had a greater appreciation for my body.

It’s easy to take things for granted when you are doing them all the time. When something you love is taken away, even if by choice, it can still leave a void in your life.

As someone who has exercised almost every day for over ten years, taking this kind of extended break was difficult. But, it also made me realize how thankful I am for a healthy body that can power me through difficult workouts and daily life.

Don’t forget to thank your body for all that it does for you each day. It is what keeps your heart pumping and fuels you to tackle the greatest challenges in life. Be gentle with it, and show it love.

Final Thoughts

While change is difficult, it isn’t always a bad thing. Change can be associated with growth and a better life. A change in routine is exactly what I needed to break out of my rigid ways and become a more flexible, well-rounded person.

Don’t fear change. Instead, see it as a way to grow and develop into the best possible version of yourself. Face it head on with an open mind, and you’ll come out on the other side a better person.

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Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, fitness, lifestyle, etc. Personal Blog - nomeatfastfeet.com | Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad.

Raleigh, NC
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