Everyone has interruptions in their life that take them away from the gym. Do these interruptions cause you to lose muscle mass? Of course, they do. However, taking a week off won’t do much damage, except making it a bit more difficult to get back into your routine. Just how long will it take before you start to lose muscle mass that will make a difference in your level of fitness.
The amount of time you can take depends on many factors.
If you’re in tip-top shape, almost like an athlete, you won’t lose muscle as fast as you would if you’re the person who goes to the gym less than five times a week, or just started working out. However, no matter how fit you are, you may lose a bit of an edge when it comes to endurance. It could take weeks for someone fit to lose muscle mass, but only days to lose aerobic benefits. For beginners, the loss of muscle mass is more significant.
The older you are, the more difference it makes.
The older you are, the more difficult it is to build muscle mass and the quicker it tends to disappear. One study followed two groups during a break. One group contained 20-30 year olds and the other 65-75 year olds. Each group first went through the same exercise program to build muscles, then both had a six-month hiatus. The younger group maintained muscle strength longer. In fact, the older group showed strength to dissipate at twice the rate of their juniors.
Older women face the worse loss after a six-month break.
Menopause does make a difference when it comes to maintaining muscle mass. Women beyond menopause who were in the study previously noted, lost the most muscle mass. In fact, after the six-month break, they lost all the progress they had made. The consensus was that as estrogen declined, it caused a decrease in both strength and muscle mass. For most people, especially seniors, working out isn’t about having those rippling muscles or a six-pack, but being able to have the strength to do the tasks of daily living and especially for seniors, living a quality existence independently.
- Even if you took a break, if you were fit previously, but are now out of shape, getting back into shape will be quicker. The fitter you were, the quicker it is to get back into shape.
- If you’re in a position where going to the gym is impossible, but you aren’t incapacitated, stay active. It takes longer to lose muscle mass, but cardio fitness dissipates quickly. Include more walking in your daily life. Take the stairs and not the elevator to help maintain aerobic fitness.
- Find ways to maintain strength. Do planks when watching TV to maintain core strength. Load your arms with grocery bags and lift and lower them a few times before putting them on the counter. Find ways to lift heavy things throughout the day.
- If you’re bedridden, there are strength training exercises to help maintain muscle mass. Always check with your health care professional first before starting any fitness program.
For more information, contact us today at LIV Fitness