Use it or lose it — science confirms what we already know

Most people are familiar with the adage: “Use it or lose it”. A recent article in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine (June 2015) showed that even a very short period of no exercise will lead to dramatic loss of muscle mass.

If you experienced having a cast for several weeks or needing to recover after surgery, you know of the severity of atrophy (muscles getting smaller) you get. Most people don’t realize though, that even a 2 week vacation, where you do not exercise or continue your strength-training, will result in substantial loss. This phenomenon is not limited to muscle mass only. The research showed that there is loss of strength and endurance from even a few days of no exercise.

This article just reinforces a body of research showing that one should not stop exercising and in particular stop strength training, for more than a couple days.

Another very interesting fact born from the research is that cardio exercises are not a sufficient substitute for the strength training. This means that jumping on a bike or treadmill for a leisurely session will not prevent muscle loss. You need resistance/weight training to maintain your muscle mass.

So, what are the conclusions?
First, come to class at least 2 or 3 times a week. Second, if you are away from us for whatever reason, and you do not have room in your carry-on for a 15 kg kettlebell, substitute the exercises we do with body-weight exercises. Increase the weight not by eating more cake but rather by reducing the support you provide your body when exercising. This means do one leg squats instead of two-leg squats. Do planks and push-ups with elevated legs rather than feet on the ground… and of course, find a bar somewhere and do your leg-raises and chin-ups!!

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Use it or lose it — science confirms what we already know