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Waiting Is Costing You More Than You Realise

by | May 26, 2020 | Blog Archive

As we enter the 3rd month of restrictions and gym closures, many of us are finding ourselves questioning why it is that our industry is one of the last to be allowed to return in NSW.  We all know the mental and physical benefits of regular exercise, and I only have to listen to my members to know how important it is for them to get their regular dose of “me time” plus social time and professionally supported workouts at the shed.

We’re all a little bit guilty of moving less, consuming more and hoping that things will get “back to normal soon” as far as the fitness landscape goes.

But, despite “sitting” (chronic diseases associated with inactivity) now overtaking smoking in the top 10 Global causes of Death, according to the World Health Organisation, we are left scratching our heads as to why we are not allowed to go back to work, and provide support to our communities- with control measures that many of us are ready to implement immediately.

This is not me harping on about the importance of exercise because I just love being a fitness trainer, making people sweat, being mean, all the theatrics that people think are involved – this is no joke.

In my opinion, this is about our health as a community, society and species.   

I’ve just been made aware of a very recent paper “Impact of sedentarism due to the COVID-19 home confinement on neuromuscular, cardiovascular and metabolic health: Physiological and pathophysiological implications and recommendations for physical and nutritional countermeasures”  (click here for full article).

Things we already knew:

  • Muscles support our whole body (literally) and prevent us ageing prematurely.  If you struggle to conceptualise this, here’s a quote I recently heard from a medical Dr: “Exercise is not the primary driver of fat loss, but it’s hugely important if you want to wipe your own body parts for longer”.
  • Muscles require a constant supply of “work” – (hence me banging on about consistency)
  • Working your muscles regularly, with good nutrition habits, will help you to have less body fat – not only important for looks (toned/less flabby), but health outcomes.
  • Physical activity is critical for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, in particular, resistance training and HIIT are beneficial.

The key points I’ve taken away, and alarmingly, I did not realise just how quickly the negative effects of inactivity can take hold;

  • Functional decline of the neuromuscular system can occur within days of inactivity
  • Taking healthy young people and reducing their daily step count to less than 5,000 steps daily reduces fitness levels by 7%, causes loss of lean leg muscle and decreases insulin sensitivity within 2 weeks. 
  • Working from home and moving less, may actually INCREASE your appetite, right when you actually need to be consuming less…. leading to an increase in fat mass – yes, it’s a thing!  (not just me).
  • It will take several months to restore muscle mass loss completely following prolonged periods of inactivity or immobilisation in the absence of structured exercise

What does this mean for us? 

  • Any form of physical activity will combat the negative effects of inactivity.  We have a range of supported options, virtual and in person (outdoors, as at time of writing). 
  • While many of you enjoy the challenge of lifting heavy weights, and the way you feel from it, you can get similar benefits at home with the high volume work, and body weight training I recommend as part of your programme.  This is exactly how we have been structuring our online training options since lockdown. 
  • I’ve been a long time advocate for a structured, routine training programme incorporating an individualised mix of Resistance Training, and High Intensity work, paired with the nutrition strategies mentioned, and now feel even more strongly about the benefits of this as we return to the new normal.

Now more than ever, Don’t give up!

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