How long does it take to restore muscle strength once you lose it from inactivity?
We all know we should keep active and that exercise is one of the best ways to keep the body strong, flexible and mobile. But with aging come arthritis, aches and pains and a general slowing down of activity. Running a million miles an hour, jumping off cliffs and the endless pursuit of entertainment gives way to a gentle walk, a little yoga, escalators rather than stairs and home on the couch rather than dancing all night at a club.
Exercise science tells us that one of the easiest and most natural ways to slow down the aging process is to keep exercising. But sometimes due to injuries and sickness we need to stop moving and that is when we begin to lose it. But did you know that the younger you are the faster you lose strength and mobility and the faster your body ages when it stops getting regular exercise?
Ever wondered how long it takes to lose muscles strength after taking time off from exercising? Researchers in Denmark undertook a study using a young group of men (23 years of age) and older men (68 years of age). They immobilized one of each of the subject’s legs for two weeks. Then the men took part in a three to four times a week for six weeks bicycle endurance program.
During the two week period the younger subjects lost up to a third of their leg strength which is the equivalent of aging by forty to fifty years! The older group lost a fourth of their leg strength. Researchers are not sure why the older group fared better, but I might surmise that with age immobilization is met with a little less resistance and a greater appreciation for the mobility of the body. Even though the older group fared better, this still goes to show that if you are inactive for just two weeks you lose a tremendous amount of strength and mobility.
What is the best form of exercise to restore muscle strength?
At the end of the six week period the researchers found that cycling was not enough to restore muscle strength and mobilization.
The researchers concluded that if you want to restore muscle strength you need to include weight training. They also concluded that it will take you three times the amount of time to restore muscle strength than it did to lose it.
So as the saying goes “if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!”
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