We do understand that “working out” is not on everyone’s list of top priority of activities. However, since our goal is to keep our client as healthy and strong as we can, we keep reminding them that consistent training is the best way to maintain one’s muscle strength and cardio-vascular fitness as we age.
Being regularly active is the key to maintaining a strong and injuries resistant body.
- Did you know that inactive people lose on average about 1 percent of their lean muscle mass per year after age 40?
We have found that a schedule of, at least, 2 vigorous workouts per week is realistically achievable for the majority of our clients. And we have definitely seen continued strength and fitness progress as long as this regular schedule is maintained.
But of course, travels, holidays, work schedule, illness… often cause irregularities in the workout schedule.
We realize everyone wants to stay fit and healthy and so we thought that a few “Use it or Lose it Facts” may help you understand the importance of your “Regular Weekly Vigorous Workout”.
Below are some details on how fast you will lose your hard earned fitness.
Let’s start with the good news. Most studies agree that the fitter you are, the longer your body will maintain some of the strength and cardio vascular fitness you have worked so hard for.
- Studies have showed that people who have been regularly exercising for 1 year or more lose between 40 to 50% of their gains after a 3 months lay-off. Compared this with the fact that beginner exercisers (people who have only been exercising for 2 to 3 months) will lose all of their gains after the same 3 months lay-off and you can see that consistency and a long term exercise regime does pay off.
- The other good news is that muscle atrophy is often dependent on how often the muscle is used. The muscles you use everyday (hamstrings, calves…) seems to regain their tone/strength longer than the less often used muscle groups (triceps, core muscles…). This means that even if you are not able to go to the gym, you can always do some other type of exercises: push ups, crunches, stair walking…
Here comes the bad news:
- We have already talked about how Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass as part of the natural aging process) affects us all. A recent study concluded that total muscle mass decreases by nearly 50 percent for people between the ages of 20 and 90. On average, people lose about 30 percent of their strength between ages 50 and 70, and another 30 percent of what’s left per decade after that..
As mentioned, the numbers above are for the inactive population. And yes, you should be proud of yourself if you have been exercising regularly but PLEASE DO KEEP GOING! Look at what will happen to your hard earned strength and fitness if you take an extended leave from your regular exercise regime.
Most studies agree on the fact that muscle atrophy and cardio vascular fitness decline will definitely be noticeable after a 2 weeks lay-off!
- VO2 max of highly trained athletes decreases by 7% in the 12 to 21days after stopping training and another 9% from 21 to 84 days.
- Regular weight lifters will notice a drop of 10 to 12% strength after 10 to 15 days lay off.
- 2 months lay off will results in 25 to 35% loss in strength and 18 to 20% loss in cardio vascular fitness. AND it will take around 2 to 3 months of regular training to get back to the level you were prior to the lay off!!
- And in case you suffer a more serious injury and require complete bed rest: Disuse of muscles leads to atrophy and a loss of muscle strength at a rate of around 12% a week. After 3–5 weeks of bedrest, almost half the normal strength of a muscle is lost. These last numbers always remind us to “play safe” and not take too many risks out there…
Add these loses to the fact that all of us are getting older every single day and you can understand why we keep reminding our clients that “regular exercise is the best way to defy the aging process!”
Here are a few tips, which we hope will help you stay regularly active:
- Try to do, at the very least, 1 vigorous workout per week. For example, if you know you won’t make it to the gym for awhile. Set a goal of doing one good cardio vascular workout on the weekend and try to do some push-ups and abdominal exercises a few days each week.
- If it’s injury that’s keeping you from doing your usual workout routine. There’s most often no reason that you can’t still exercise. You can almost always train the rest of the un-injured muscle groups without causing any extra stress of the injured limb/muscle group…
- There is no excuse for not exercising just because you can’t make it to a gym. … push-ups, body weight squats, lunges, and crunches can be combined with jumping jacks – running – skipping – spinning for a highly effective fitness-maintaining workout.
- If you’re pressed for time and cannot dedicate a full hour to your workout, no worries. 20 to 30 minutes of continued exercise is MUCH BETTER than no exercise at all!
If you are sitting there realizing that you have not exercised yet this week, no worries, just drop to the floor and do 10 push-ups. See, wasn’t that easy? 🙂
To conclude, we would like to remind you that there are many things in life which you cannot control (ex: weather, price of gas, Montreal Canadiens winning the Stanley Cup…). However, we also know that you can DEFINITELY control whether or not you will be able to do some vigorous exercise this week. So, please do what Nike has been telling us for years now: “JUST DO IT!”
Train Smarter – Not Harder!
Michel & Svetlana