2020, it's the year someone recently likened to a hula hoop made of barbed wire, and perhaps quite appropriately. With stay-at-home measures and offers of free entertainment TV, it's no wonder it hasn't been a year conducive to getting regular physical activity. Yet while masks and social isolation measures have been put in place to keep us healthy, the inability to get out may be doing the opposite for some. "According to the well-respected Cleveland Clinic, cutting back on physical activity can take a toll on muscle mass and increase body fat in just two weeks," states Joy Stephenson-Laws (founder of Proactive Health Labs, a national nonprofit health and wellness information company).
Furthermore, she says, "It may be tempting for you to believe that if you don’t have a weight issue, you are in the clear and don’t need as much exercise, or any, physical activity to stay healthy. The truth is that not being physically active increases everyone’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression and certain cancers, just to name a few. In fact, someone who is mostly sedentary has an up to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who move regularly." But the good news is that individuals who get back on a gradually progressive fitness plan "can begin to reverse the damage of inactivity pretty quickly."
Cleveland clinic also states other physiological changes that typically occur over even brief periods of inactivity (quote):
• A rise in blood pressure, especially for those who use exercise as a way to lower their blood pressure
• Post meal blood sugar levels remaining elevated
• Reduced metabolic rate, which can lead to unwanted weight gain
• The heart losing the efficiency it built up with exercise and physical activity – it can start losing its ability to handle extra blood flow by up to five percent in 24 hours, and resting heartbeat also starts increasing by up to four to 15 beats per minute within a month of reducing physical activity
• Cholesterol levels may increase
• A decline in VO2 max (or the body’s ability to effectively use oxygen) so drastically that most of the aerobic capacity gained over the previous two or three months is lost within two to four weeks
• Loss of muscle mass, research indicates that muscles begin to atrophy with as little as 72 hours of inactivity (this includes the heart muscles, and those that operate the lungs).
So what's a person to do it they can't get outside? We'd like to suggest indoor exercise, and no, it doesn't have to be jazzercise! Try any number of HIIT exercise routines. One of the most famous in recent years is the "7 Minute HIIT Workout" that has been shown to significantly improve health and well-being. Buy a treadmill. An exercise hula hoop, weighted for adults. A jump rope. Or even try isometric contractions and seated leg lifts, or walking in place. The point is to keep those muscles active, the body moving, and keep the lungs and heart active and engaged too. Need more help or ideas? We're happy to talk to you!
NOTE: For extra safety, always talk to you physician before beginning any fitness routine. We're not here to diagnose, prescribe, or attempt to cure anything. Use the included information at your own discretion and liability.
(Quoted information from this month's Massage Magazine article, "Are You Back At Work? You Need To Get Back In Shape, Too — Here's Why")
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Jerri W., LMT, CWC
Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Wellness Coach with over 25+ years of experience in pain management, relaxation techniques and lifestyle education.
Heather R., LMT, CWC
Certified Wellness Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist with a passion for helping others achieve optimal wellness through healthier living.
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.