How long does it take to get unfit?

How long does it take to get unfit?

Isn't it strange how the longer you’re inactive, the less inclined to exercise you are?

This is because our bodies adapt pretty quickly to routines. If you work out regularly your body starts adapting and getting stronger and it becomes easier to keep fit.

Sadly the same thing happens when you stop for too long. It gets easier and easier to do less and all the gains you made slip away fairly easily.

But how long does it actually take for us to lose our levels of fitness?

Everyone takes time off their work out programme – let’s face it. Life gets in the way. But research suggests that just two weeks of inactivity will affect your muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness in a negative way. If you don’t consistently challenge your body then your heart can't beat as fast and your muscles shorten.

There’s a bit of a sliding scale as well, for example the fitter you are to start with then the slower you will lose your fitness. Loss still occurs however, and a study of an Olympic rower in the Journal of Science in Medicine and Sport showed that eight weeks of inactivity meant a 20 per cent drop in fitness.

As long as you make efforts to move, then consider the fact that something is always better than nothing. If you’re grappling over whether to drop the endurance over the strength training, then drop the endurance session as it takes longer to lose that compared to strength and power.

If you take a full week off then you can anticipate taking two weeks getting back to the level you were.

And remember if you’ve had a long period of inactivity then go back slowly – if you hit it too hard to soon then you’ll only end up with an injury.

 


The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura loves running, Pilates and Yoga, and is forever trying to find the time to fit these activities into her life around a busy family. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.

Comments

craig t.
20 January 2016

craig t.

if you approach activity in bite-sized pieces that all add up, you will find it easy to keep active even when you can't do your usual workouts. Even 5 minutes a couple of times a day will really add up, especially if you are doing high intensity stuff.

Frank H.
25 November 2015

Frank H.

This makes for quite scary reading and makes even spending a week off the gym seem like a bit of a worry!

Mike D.
25 November 2015

Mike D.

Get a dog! Then you won't have to worry about staying consistent with exercises cos you'll be dragged out every day for sure for an invigorating romp - wind, rain or snow!!

Roger B.
24 November 2015

Roger B.

the time seems to get shorter as I age, which is a bit worrying. So there needs to be some kind of activity as often as possible. Not always rewarding in this weather but 'must get out the door' is the mantra.

Emma C.
23 November 2015

Emma C.

That's interesting that it takes longer to lose endurance than strength. I would have thought it was the other way round, so have learned something useful here.

Emma C.
22 November 2015

Emma C.

I find that if I don't stretch for a few days I start to feel very stiff. It's a good reminder to do my stretches. But I don't think I'd feel so much of a difference with cardio - until I tried to go for a run,

Sarah L.
21 November 2015

Sarah L.

I'm quite pleased the timescale is as long as two weeks, although as long as I'm healthy I would hope never to leave it that long.

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