Study Reveals How Fast Muscle Declines When You Stop Working Out

It happens to the best of us. Life catches up with us and we are running ragged trying to just make it through the day, meet our daily obligations, take care of our families, work, and, perhaps by some miracle, slip in eight hours of sleep each night.



Next thing you know, you’ve skipped a workout session. You think to yourself, it’s no big deal and you can double up on your sets or spend extra time on your regime the next time you hit the gym (all the while knowing full well you just told a little lie to yourself or maybe even a big one).

Time passes. You miss another workout session, and another. Soon you discover that your time on the couch versus the time in the gym is really starting to become evident in the way you look and feel, and there’s good reason to feel unhealthy. As per a study recently published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, since you’ve stopped working out you may have lost up to one-third of your body strength. Even worse, you begin losing muscle in as little as 14 days after you stop exercising.

The Study

Experts from The University of Copenhagen asked 15 men between the ages of 60 to 70, 17 men who are 20 to 30 years of age, and 32 men in all, to wear a knee brace for a period of 14 days. Within that time, the youngest men in the group lost as much as 22 to 34 percent of their muscular strength. Interestingly, the older men in the study lost muscle strength at percentages between 20 and 26 percent. Even worse, in order to regain the strength lost due to immobility, the amount of exercise the participants had to engage in proved fairly intense. The participants took on six weeks of regular cycling activities. The cycling schedule involved four weeks of cycling three times weekly, which increased in intensity to a two-week period with cycling sessions four times weekly. While it took six weeks of the cycling to regain the lost muscle mass, the muscular strength of those participants was as much as 5 to 10 percent lower than the leg strength the men had before the start of the current study.

As per Andreas Vigelsø, PhD., who is a researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Aging, the team of researchers suggest women are likely to experience a decline in muscle strength as well. Vigelsø also explains how the finding serve as a demonstration of what happen when one lives a sedentary lifestyle.

While it is true the older men lost less muscle mass, they still lost enough to play a significant role in the quality of their lives. With a muscular decline up to 26%, one can quickly develop difficulties with handling hygiene and daily living tasks. As such, taking on a sedentary lifestyle and skipping one too many workouts can prove a real threat to one’s independence in their senior years.

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