You’ll be surprised how quickly you lose muscle mass if you stop exercising. A study by The Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen has shown that you’ll experience a catastrophic drop in muscle mass after just two weeks of complete inactivity. The study immobilized the legs of several participants to simulate the effects of injury (or even a relaxing vacation in which you lie on a chaise lounge most of the time).
One of the researchers, Andreas Vigels, said young subjects lost up to a third of their muscular strength in the immobilized leg in just two weeks, while older people lost approximately a quarter. “A young man who is immobilized for two weeks loses muscular strength in his leg equivalent to aging by 40 or 50 years,” Vigels said. Interestingly, the study then found it takes three times as long to bring the muscle back (with intense exercise) as it does to lose it with inactivity.
In other words, two weeks of inactivity needs six weeks of exercise to bring back the strength lost.
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