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Fitness: Enjoy the Process of Success

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Being Out of Shape is Relative
“Out of shape” has a lot of different meaning to different folks. To a marathon runner it is missing a day or two of distance running. To the disinterested couch potato it is a way of life. In between are people who have missed a few weeks, a few months, or a few years of regular exercise.

Exercise Physiologists call being out of shape deconditioning or detraining. People who are exercising should know there are two main kinds of deconditioning: strength and cardiovascular. If a person stops lifting weights, they really don’t lose any strength on Day 1 or Day 2 … 3 … or even Day 10. In fact, within a three to ten-day period of rest, a person might get stronger. If you can do 10 reps of a certain heavy weight, there is a pretty good chance you can do at least 7 or 8 reps and maybe even still 10 reps of the same weight after no workouts for up to 10 days. You might even be able to lift a heavier weight, but probably fewer reps within that 10-day rest. But after 10 days to 14 days, then you will start to see a decline in strength.

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Cardio is a different story. Stopping cardiovascular training results in a significant decrease in conditioning immediately. Cardiovascular detraining primarily causes drops in blood volume and mitochondrial enzyme activity — that’s the activity that gets energy to repeatedly contracting muscles from the combination of food and oxygen at the cellular level. Most endurance runners can feel a disappointing loss of power, endurance and speed with associated discomfort in as little as three days of absolute rest. Athletes with adaptations of heart size and muscle capillarization with years of development seem to hold their morphological or structural adaptations for about three months. But the blood volume and mitochondrial activity starts discharging like a cell phone battery in 2 or 3 days. Twelve days of detraining takes about 36 days of re-training to restore the body to the trained levels of mitochondrial activity. In studies involving complete rest of trained individuals, the mitochondrial activity has been shown to have a 50% decline in 12 days. Note that reduced training or moderate training keeps the loss of conditioned cellular physiology (mitochondrial activity) from being so severe.

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