Just Two Weeks of Inactivity Can Affect Your Physical Fitness
If you are a healthy, young adult you might not worry too much about staying physically active all the time. How can it hurt if you go through periods when you aren’t really getting much exercise or working out as much as usual?
Well, new research shows exactly how it hurts. It turns out that cutting back on exercise can take a toll on your muscle mass and increase your body fat in a very short period of time.
A study, published in May 2017, found that healthy adults (average age 25) had adverse physical changes after just two weeks of inactivity. These changes in muscle mass and body fat can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
“I think it is astonishing that in such a short time these changes occurred,” says endocrinologist Betul Hatipoglu, MD. “It might help explain perhaps why we have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.”
Previous studies on sedentary behavior have typically focused on special populations, such as astronauts and hospital patients.
“We know that people who sit and stand soon after surgery have less complications, but I have never seen a study that focuses on healthy human beings who were not in a special population group,” Dr. Hatipoglu says.
How inactive were study participants?
Thanks to fitness-tracking devices, the activity levels of the 28 people in the study were easy to monitor.
Before the study, the young adults walked an average of 10,000 steps each day, for a total of about 161 minutes. During the 14-day trial, they walked only about 1,500 steps daily, for a total of 36 minutes.
They made no changes to their diet. Food consumption was consistent before and during the study.
Researchers call the physical fitness changes “small but significant.” In addition to less muscle mass and more body fat, participants’ cardio-respiratory fitness levels also declined sharply. And they were unable to run for as long or at the same intensity as they had before the study.
“The study results emphasize the importance of remaining physically active, and highlight the dangerous consequences of continuous sedentary behavior,” researchers concluded.
8 tips for boosting your activity levels
Dr. Hatipoglu recommends walking a minimum of 5,000 steps on weekdays and aiming for 10,000 steps on weekend days. She offers these tips to help you achieve those goals:
1. Wear a fitness tracking device. It’s one of the best ways to avoid a sedentary day, Dr. Hatipoglu says.
“It’s extremely eye-opening for my patients when they use these devices,” she says.
2. Consider getting a dog. Dr. Hatipoglu doesn’t prescribe dogs. But she says she often hears from patients that a four-legged friend is their best motivator to walk.
3. Take regular exercise breaks. If you sit at a desk for long periods, set an alarm every hour and get up and move around for three to five minutes.
4. Park far away from the office or store. “As much as you dread it, it forces you to walk,” she says.
5. Take the long way. Instead of walking the shortest distance to a meeting or even to a colleague’s desk, take a longer route to get more steps in.
6. Try chair yoga. When you are sick or on a tight deadline, it’s harder to find time to walk. But taking a few minutes several times a day to do chair yoga or other sitting exercises can help.
7. Share chores for exercise. If you are a caregiver, don’t do all the chores for the person in your care. Encourage the patient to get up and move around as much as possible every day. Or, if you have a caregiver, make an effort to get up and help yourself as much as you can.
8. Enlist the help of a physical therapist. If your inactivity is becoming more permanent than temporary, get help to get yourself back up to speed.
Dr. Hatipoglu says the study is eye-opening in further illustrating the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.
“I think this is an amazing study and I will be sharing it with my colleagues and patients,” she says.
Source: Cleveland Clinic –
If you find yourself saying, “Huh?” a lot, or you notice that your eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, you’re probably aware that your senses are declining with age.
You may also notice that your ability to perceive where your body is in relation to other people or objects (what is known as proprioception) also declines.
“When proprioception declines, you may feel more unsteady when walking and have difficulty with balance,” says geriatric specialist Ronan Factora, MD. “Hearing, vision, and proprioception all decline as a part of normal aging. But there are some things you can do to make sure you are functioning at your best.”
What you can do to diminish hearing loss?
There are certain lifestyle factors that can contribute to hearing loss, Dr. Factora says. “Drinking large quantities of alcohol, exposure to loud noises and smoking can all be contributors.”
He recommends that men consume no more than two alcoholic drinks per day and that women drink no more than one per day. Avoid loud noises as much as possible, and use ear protection when you can’t. And if you’re a smoker, ask your doctor for help with quitting.
There are also certain medications that can lead to hearing loss. “Excessive use of aspirin or ibuprofen, and also some antibiotics, can contribute to hearing loss,” Dr. Factora says. “Make sure you talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter.”
What you can (or can’t) do about vision loss
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to slow vision decline as you age. What you can do is have regular exams by an ophthalmologist to make sure any vision changes are actually age-related, and not related to another underlying condition.
“After age 40, you should have an eye exam every one to two years,” Dr. Factora says. “Your ophthalmologist will look for contributing factors, such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes-related changes or macular degeneration.”
Sudden changes in vision are not a normal part of aging and need to be addressed immediately, he says.
What can be done for a decline in proprioception?
If you feel like you’re having trouble balancing or like you’re unsteady on your feet, make sure you talk to your doctor. “Don’t assume it’s just a normal part of aging,” Dr. Factora says. “There are treatable conditions, like vitamin B12 deficiency or peripheral neuropathy, that can sometimes cause balance problems. These conditions can add insult to the normal aging process.”
Get out and enjoy life
Many people become socially isolated when their senses start to decline because they can’t see as well as they used to or have trouble hearing what others are saying. But you don’t have to let that happen. “Normal sensory decline should not affect function,” Dr. Factora says. “Your doctor can help you find ways to adjust so you can still live a full and robust life.”
Source: Cleveland Clinic –
If every step you take with COPD is sluggish, put some pep in that step and fight fatigue. Pulmonologist Amy Attaway, MD, shares some tips.
Why has COPD left me so tired?
Dr. Attaway explains: “Many people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are in a hypermetabolic state. Your body feels like it’s spending all of its energy on breathing.”
It can feel like you’re using so much energy to breathe that you don’t have much left for physical activity.
But COPD may not be the cause of your fatigue
“There are times when someone has COPD, but something else is causing the fatigue,” says Dr. Attaway. “And those conditions are often treatable, through a daily medication or using a breathing mask at night.”
Non-COPD causes of fatigue may include:
COPD fatigue: Plan ahead
“A COPD diagnosis may make activities harder, so put a plan in place,” says Dr. Attaway. “Whether you’re heading off for a Disney vacation or just on a walk, set realistic expectations about what you can accomplish.”
Try these strategies:
Nutrition is critical
To promote overall wellness, try eating:
You may need extra support figuring out which foods will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to energy. Ask your provider for a referral to a dietitian who can help you make a nutrition plan that works.
Exercise (whether you want to or not)
“COPD can promote a sedentary lifestyle, but that creates a bad cycle because the less active you are the more likely you can get muscle loss in the rest of your body,” says Dr. Attaway.
“Plus, lack of exercise may lead to weight gain. The additional weight can push on the diaphragm, making it harder to move air and contribute to shortness of breath.”
Dr. Attaway says it’s vital to start a home exercise program (after clearing it with your doctor). Set these goals:
Take regular rest breaks
Regular breaks help conserve energy. If you have fatigue, take a nap for an hour or two in the afternoon.
“Just remember, a one-hour nap can easily turn into four,” says Dr. Attaway. “You want to stay active, so set a timer to keep yourself from snoozing the day away.”
Pulmonary rehabilitation to the rescue
You may need pulmonary rehab if you have:
Pulmonary rehabilitation has two phases:
“During pulmonary rehab, you learn how planning, nutrition, exercise and other strategies can help you beat COPD fatigue,” says Dr. Attaway. “Plus, you interact with others who have similar health issues. The social aspect is great as well.”
Source: Cleveland Clinic –