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Taking a Break Before You Break

Sabbatical: Any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest.

That may be the definition that dictionary has written down, but I’ve added a twist that I think my friends would agree with…

Like Mr. Webster, to me, a sabbatical is an extended leave for rest, but I would also like to add in “…and extended leave for rest, relaxation, rejuvenation and stress relief (both physical and mental).”

And no matter who you are everyone needs a sabbatical every once in a while.

As we all know, I believe in exercise, not just for the physical health aspect of it, but it’s also been clinically proven to reduce stress.

In this present day and age, many people have careers that require little or no physical exertion, you know like sitting behind a computer, driving a police car, etc. , a fact that can seen by the alarming rate the western world is becoming severely overweight.

Think about it, forty hours a week spent behind a desk or wheel of a car, the rest of your time watching T. V. and sleeping without exercising, that’s a recipe for disaster. 

That lifestyle helps to create a downhill slide in general health, loss of range of motion, pain and other symptoms.

I’m a police officer and I spend many hours each week behind the wheel of a police car and add to that at least one hour per day driving to and from work.

But when I’m home I spend a lot of time exercising and very little time watching television or on the computer.

I tend to vary my exercises which include: bike riding, swimming, running, body weight exercises and stretching.

But as you know, I was always this way…

It was a long steady fight back from self-created bad health, every day was a battle, but gradually, I was able to add more and more to the regimen.

I was never satisfied, my health wouldn’t allow me to be, I kept evolving my routine, and kept adding more and more to it.

You can’t last long doing what I was doing, and sure enough, one day my body just said, “Enough!”.

During my down time from feeling beat up, tired and sore, I took inventory of my daily routine, and boy was I surprised…

My exercise routine had grown out of control, here’s what I was doing: 15 mi. bike ride or 1/2 mi. swim, 2.5mi run, 200 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 15 min of hammer training, 200 squats, 15mins of stretching and frequently I work in other body-weight exercises and a couple of days a week I try to work in some weight training.

And on my “off” days, I was still riding the bike, and usually twenty five to thirty miles at that.

As you can tell I enjoy exercising and especially the rewards gained from it, but too much of a good thing can still be bad for you, and I was overtraining.

Opinions vary on the theory of “overtraining”, but from my experience, it’s a very real result of working too hard, doing too much for too long.

Have you ever heard the old joke about the man that went to his doctor and said, “Doc it hurts when I do this” and lifted his arm above his head and bent his elbow,  and the doctor’s reply, “well don’t do that”.

Well, needless to say, I decided it was time for a break from training.

If you’ve been exercising for a while without a break and you’re in pain, then just maybe you too should think about taking some time off for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Pain is our body’s way of telling us to stop doing whatever we’re doing.

It’s important to make exercise a priority in your life, but it’s also important to have that planned sabbatical once in a while,  or what I call the “The Three R’s”, Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation.

After my sabbatical, I felt rested, relaxed and rejuvenated,  I was also injury and pain free, and I just jumped back on the horse and got back to training.

It’s important to realize though, after an injury or extended time off, it’s never a good idea to start back with the same routine and high intensity.

I ease back into my training and soon, I’m going full steam ahead.

Sabbatical’s are great, and if you haven’t taken one in a while, I suggest you plan one soon, maybe a weekend away with your honey or a vacation to somewhere peaceful and relaxing.

Believe me, your brain and body will thank you for it!

As always, never say “I’m too old” or “I can’t”… because you’re not and you can!



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