Will I Lose My Fitness During COVID-19 Gym Closures?

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re worried that all the hard work you’ve put in to exercise over the last few months or years is all going to drain away.

With the closure of gyms around the country, it’s a real concern.

So are you right to worry? And is there anything you can do to minimise the loss? And how quickly will you be able to get back to your pre- COVID-19 condition?

Let’s take a journey into the effect that stopping exercise will have on your strength and fitness.

A couple of days away from exercise, and your ‘aerobic base’ will start to drop first. This aerobic fitness is the first thing to fall away, and your heart and lungs will start to lose some of their ability to fuel your muscles in aerobic type exercise.

There’s a protein inside your muscles that goes through a rapid change once you stop exercising, and it’s this protein that makes your muscles more efficient at using the fuel your heart and lungs deliver. As this protein changes, your heart and lungs have to work harder to get the same effect, and thus, your aerobic fitness drops.

This initial loss of aerobic fitness is rapid, but the speed at which you lose it is dependant on your ‘training age’ – how many weeks, months or years you’ve been exercising for. If you’ve been exercising for a long time, you’ll retain the fitness longer. Recently started a new exercise program? Is the fitness you currently have ‘new fitness’? You’re at risk of faster losses.

In fact, up until about three to four weeks, you’ll be able to regain your aerobic fitness in about the same amount of time as you had off. For example, if you haven’t trained any aerobic exercise for three weeks, it will then take you three weeks to get it back.

This aerobic fitness is ‘easy come, easy go’. Relatively, it’s easy to improve, easy to lose, and easy to get back again.

The good news is, it’s relatively easy to maintain your aerobic fitness. make sure you’re getting in some exercise that makes you breath hard, and you’ll be doing everything you need to, to survive the break.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.