Inactivity and muscle loss: how long can you go?

You can lose muscle after just 2 weeks of inactivity


It happens every once in a while: you take a vacation from your exercise routine. You get married. You go to the beach. You have a baby. You get injured. A big work project consumes all of your free time. In short, your busy life pulls you away from your sweat session for a period of time.

Did you ever wonder how much muscle you might lose during your hiatus?

Researchers from Denmark, whose study was published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, provide an answer. In their study, researchers tested participants for baseline strength. Then, each participant had one leg immobilized for a 2-week period.

The result?

Younger participants, whose age averaged 23, lost one-third of their leg strength, while older participants, whose age averaged 68, lost one-fourth of their leg strength.

The researchers advised against long periods of inactivity, no matter what your age. To rebuild your strength, they said, you would have to spend three times as long as you were inactive to return to your  previous strength levels!

What can you do? Even if you have to forgo your regular routine, try to fit in activity to minimize muscle loss. Travel with light weight bands for some easy and quick strength training moves. Perform quick squats, lunges, push ups, or abdominal curls when you have 10 minutes here and there. Seek exercise in every day activity: walk or bike to your destination rather than driving. If you suffer from an injury, create a modified workout routine rather than forgoing all exercise. Be creative and keep moving!

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