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Thursday, July 23, 2015
What Two Weeks of Being Lazy Does to Your Body [via YAHOO]
Is couch surfing your summer activity of choice? You may be losing strength and muscle faster than you’ll be able to regain it. (Photo: Corbis/Amyn Nasser)
It’s the season of poolside piña coladas, lazy days, and vacations from the gym — which, as any swimsuit-wearing gal or chest-baring guy can attest, adds up to less-than-desirable results. How fast, exactly, will your muscle tone and strength deteriorate? That’s what researchers from the University of Copenhagen set out to determine in a new study, published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.
To assess the effects of being totally sedentary — as an athlete might be after an injury, for example — the scientists used knee braces to immobilize one leg of 17 young men (average age of 23) and 15 older men (average age of 68) for two weeks straight. The study participants were instructed to use crutches and to avoid doing any weight-bearing activity with the out-of-commission leg. Before the study, after the immobilization, and after a six-week retraining period, the scientists tested the men’s body composition and strength in each leg.
Not surprisingly, the guys lost strength in the immobilized limb — specifically, the young men experienced a 28 percent reduction in strength from baseline, while the older men showed a 23 percent decline. For the younger guys, this is like aging 40 to 50 years in a matter of days, study author Andreas Vigelso tells Yahoo Health.
Of course, simply being sedentary — say, spending more time on the couch than moving around — isn’t the same as completely immobilizing one limb. But even the leg that the guys were able to use took a hit over the two-week study period: Both groups lost strength — about 10 percent from baseline — in the leg that wasn’t put in a brace.