Muscle Strength Starts to Fade After Just Two Weeks of Physical Inactivity

muscle strength

It takes just two weeks of physical inactivity for those who are physically fit to lose a significant amount of their muscle strength, new research indicates.

In that relatively short period of time, young people lose about 30 percent of their muscle strength, leaving them as strong as someone decades older. Meanwhile, active older people who become sedentary for a couple weeks lose about 25 percent of their strength.

The more muscle a person has, the more they will lose if they are sidelined by an injury, illness or vacation, the Danish study found.

“Our experiments reveal that inactivity affects the muscular strength in young and older men equally. Having had one leg immobilized for two weeks, young people lose up to a third of their muscular strength, while older people lose approximately one-fourth. A young man who is immobilized for two weeks loses muscular strength in his leg equivalent to aging by 40 or 50 years,” researcher Andreas Vigelsoe, from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said in a university news release.

Total muscle mass normally declines with age. Young men have about two pounds more muscle mass in each leg than older men do. But, after two weeks of not moving at all the young men involved in the study lost 17 ounces of muscle, on average.

Older men, on the other hand, lost about nine ounces. However, all of the men lost physical fitness while their leg was immobilized, the study published recently in theJournal of Rehabilitation Medicine found.

“The more muscle mass you have, the more you’ll lose. Which means that if you’re fit and become injured, you’ll most likely lose more muscle mass than someone who is unfit, over the same period of time,” said Martin Gram, another researcher at the center, said in the news release.

“But even though older people lose less muscle mass and their level of fitness is reduced slightly less than in young people, the loss of muscle mass is presumably more critical for older people, because it is likely to have a greater impact on their general health and quality of life,” Gram said.

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SOURCE: HealthDay News
Mary Elizabeth Dallas