11
Jan
09

Muscles

I was thinking about muscles whilst running the other night.

If you stop exercising muscles start weakening immediately. Idle muscles keep burning energy and their proteins continue breaking down. I recall a high school gym teacher telling us that within three days of ceasing exercise muscles start to atrophy to a degree that is noticable. I have no idea how accurate that is, but it probably feels right. You’ve probably got to keep exercising at least every other day to replace muscle at the rate it breaks down (or to add it faster than it breaks down if you’re strengthening).

On the other hand the rate of decay must drop off a lot, because it seems to me that it takes a very long time to undo all the of the muscle you’ve built. I probably ran less than five times all last autumn, and not at all in the last 8 weeks; I really slacked off. Yet I’ve been able to get right back out there this week and run pretty well. Certainly much better than when I first started years ago. Despite the quick initial decrease, I’m impressed that so much of the increased strength (and aerobic capacity probably even more so) remains.

I’m more than impressed, I’m very glad: if it weren’t the case, re-starting exercise would be even more of a pain.

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