Use it or Lose it!
Find yourself huffing and puffing at the top of a flight of stairs? Do you get easily winded from hiking up a long hill? Or are you finding it more difficult to do things like get up and down off the floor or get in and out of your car? Skip the gym and you may find yourself finding everyday activities to be much more challenging. Even if you have been working out regularly for a long time, the adage of “use it or lose it” really applies and even more so as we age. Your strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility matter. You can feel it in your body everyday as you move through your everyday activities. Being fit not only makes you look good but more importantly it feels good because having strong muscles and a strong heart makes everyday activities more effortless.
The aging body is already in a natural process of losing muscle and bone tissue, losing around 3% of muscle strength every year, making it ever more difficult to perform routine activities. The only way to combat this is to exercise, but the key is to make exercise a habit, something you do almost every day to constantly challenge your muscles to stay fit and healthy. Research shows that within as little as a week or two of stopping regular exercise you begin to lose cardiorespiratory capacity, endurance and muscular strength. How quickly that happens depends on how long you’ve been exercising. If you’ve only been working out a few months, you will lose almost all your progress within just 30 days. Research shows the longer your workout history, the longer it takes to decline but ultimately without the stimulus our bodies need to build muscle, there is no reason for the body to keep the muscle!
In general, fitness becomes harder to maintain as you get older. Those between the ages of 60 and 75 lose their edge twice as fast as their younger counterparts. Regardless of your age, the key to good health is regular workouts that challenges your heart and your muscles.
If you must take a break due to injury or illness, here are some suggestions for maintaining fitness. Don’t completely stop. Train at least once a week. This will slow the decline. Train with a physical therapist or a qualified personal trainer. Use circuit training for faster, more efficient weight and cardio combined workouts, using muscles that aren’t impacted by injury. On the plus side, provided you get back to training sooner than later, you will regain your strength in half to two-thirds of the time it initially took you to build it.
If you are recovering from an injury, illness or had any other lapse in your fitness and aren’t sure how to get started, let me design a personal fitness program to rebuild your health. Contact me about my outdoor gym for one-on-one or group fitness six days a week.