It is tedious keeping up with your fitness regimen, even during a vacation overseas. Most of us tend to skip working out during this time period. After all, who wants to go all the way to Korea and still have to work out anyway?
But can you take a break from exercise? For younger guys, it might be fine. But if you’re getting up there in age, the answer to “can you take stop exercising?”, even for a short while, is a definite no. Your body might regret your “vacation” from working out.
By now, everyone knows how important working out and staying fit is. It helps you look good, be more energetic and improves your appetite. It even helps you live longer. When you’re younger, getting into and staying in shape is not very difficult with the various forms of exercise available to us.
But why is it difficult to stay in shape, especially when you get older?
A study was published in the National Institutes of Health in which 45 active participants were asked to stop being active. These participants, who had an average daily step count of 10,000, which is roughly equivalent to 8km, were asked to cut down to 2,000 steps a day while sitting down for 3 hours a day. This routine continued for 2 weeks before conclusions were drawn.
This resulted in the participants developing a symptom called metabolic derangement, in which fat and excess calories accumulated around their abdomens as a result of physical inactivity. Their blood sugar levels increased, they became less sensitive to insulin and lost a little muscle mass in their legs.
While most of them returned to normal after restarting their regular exercise routine, several of them ended up exercising less and retained their level of insulin sensitivity.
According to a report in the New York Times, Chris McGlory, a kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada had this to say, “It’s not uncommon for older people to become sick or injured and wind up hospitalized or housebound for several weeks, or for someone who’s younger to just decide to take a few weeks off”. and “if it’s at all possible,” he says, “don’t stop moving.”
A study linked in a journal,Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience showed that this has been an issue for some time. 10 days without exercise and an insulin-regulation glucose diet in older adults caused 29% of them to develop signs of impaired glucose tolerance or insulin resistance.
Meanwhile, the study also showed that when endurance runners did not exercise for 10 days, blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion, was reduced. While it returned to normal after 10 days, the study did not show the effects on older adults.
In a different study done in The Journals of Gerontology, participants aged 65 and above, who were at risk of diabetes but were active, were asked to drastically cut down their exercise for 2 weeks before returning to their normal routine. Many had increased insulin resistance and became even more prone to diabetes. Afterwards, most of the participants were unable to go back to their previous active lifestyle, even after 2 weeks.
While there is a need for a long-term study, the links seen in these various studies may indicate that older folks need to continue exercising. As they age, they might be permanently at risk of diseases like diabetes if they start being inactive. If you see your elderly mom or dad not exercising, ask them to join you!
By Muhd Farhan