Inactivity – How Bad Is It?
As of the time of writing, 2 weeks has passed since the start of our circuit breaker period due to Covid-19. For many of use, we have not been able to do exercise that we usually do in the gym or in the pool. Though we have always been told that physical inactivity is bad for us, I want to stress to you today that it really can get very bad, very quickly.
Inactivity has long term effects. These are the ones that gets a lot of attention in the media due to its life threatening nature. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic conditions fall into this category. While this is serious, there are other effects that can be felt more immediately. Those are to our musculoskeletal system. I will explain more below.
After the age of 30, we lose roughly 8-9% of our muscle strength each decade. However, this is very much accelerated if we are inactive. It takes just 2 weks of inactivity to have a reduction of 30% in muscle strength. So, in 2 weeks of being inactive, we can suddenly be as weak as someone who is about 30 years older than us. This has various implications from back pain to future injury.
The more muscle a person has, the more they will lose if they are sidelined by an injury, illness or vacation.
You ever wake up feeling very stiff and sore in the morning? Or feeling sore after sitting in a long meeting? That is all because of prolonged periods of inactivity. So imagine being stuck at home for weeks and not being able to exercise those joints. What happens is that your joints get very stiff. It is not known why this occurs. One possible explanation that has been put forward is that the joint gets lubricated with nutrients and fluids when we move. When we dont move, then this doesnt happen and joints get stiff and weak.
Yes, this is usually a long term issue. But sitting at home in your sofa is going to make your postural muscles weak and some of your other muscles to be short. This kind of imbalance can happen very quickly. As we discussed, muscle strength reduce by about 30% due to inactivity. Muscle length is even quicker. Just 3 days of inactivity can leave your muscles feeling very tight as compared to before. So, don’t be surprised that you come out of this circuit breaker period looking hunched and depressed because you did not exercise.
As the Singapore government suggests, we should all exercise at home during this stay home period. I hope this article has highlighted to you what can happen if you don’t, aside from the usual long term effects. We have provided a short video of exercise routines you can do. Be sure to check out our instagram page and contact us if you have any questions.