Short Bouts of Inactivity Lead to Muscle Loss

Before settling in for a long winter’s nap or a holiday Netflix binge, you might want to consider how inactivity for just two weeks can impact muscle mass and body weight.  A recent U.K. study found that stopping regular physical even for short periods of time can have a significant impact on the health of adults, especially over the age of 50.

According to a CTV News report, a study presented at the Physiological Society’s Liverpool conference found that after 2 weeks of reduced physical activity older adults lost significant muscle mass and gained body fat, especially around the middle.  Lowering activity levels to around 1500 steps per day also reduced bone density which increases the risk for developing osteoporosis and sustaining a fracture from a fall. 

Younger adults also experienced a decrease in muscle size and strength and a loss of bone mass but the older adults had less muscle and more fat at the start of the two-week study.  Older adults have more to lose from being sedentary, even for short periods of time than their younger counterparts.  

Researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease found that not only did fitness levels sharply decline with inactivity, but the changes in body fat and muscle mass are strongly associated with chronic illness and premature death.  No changes in diet were made during the study period and participants completed a dietary journal to ensure adherence. 

If winter weather prevents you from walking or cycling outdoors, consider joining a local gym or senior center to participate in exercise classes, walk on a treadmill, cycle on a stationary bike or swim.  Grab a friend or partner and walk the mall and enjoy social interaction while getting your recommended 10,000 steps each day. Remember to ramp up your speed for at least 3,000 of those steps to challenge yourself and improve fitness.