Use It or Lose It - Combat Deconditioning after Quarantine

Shanda McNew - PRO PT;


The lazy, cooped up days of winter combined with stay at home orders during the pandemic have reduced activity levels for many of us. Gyms were closed, social outings limited - we havenít been strolling the mall and it's been too cold to get outdoors. Unfortunately, just as exercising changes your body to be more healthy and fit, not exercising leads to the opposite which we call deconditioning.


Simply put, we must use it or lose it. Without regular activity, the body will weaken. Cardiovascular fitness is reduced first, followed by muscular strength. As we become less fit, simple activities become harder. In turn, we do less and set off a vicious, unhealthy cycle. Deconditioning leads to more aches and pains, illness, and disease. It only takes two weeks without exercise to significantly decrease stamina and strength, a longer time frame can erase virtually all our fitness gains.


The best way to deal with deconditioning is to prevent it in the first place with daily movement activities you enjoy. If you're undergoing a period of decreased activity due to a crazy work or life schedule, using a shortened exercise routine can help minimize your losses. Even one session a week or breaking up your activity into multiple short chunks throughout the day will help you keep most of what you've gained. If your layoff was longer, if you're having trouble getting started, or if aches and pains are making it difficult to get moving again reach out to your physician or your physical therapist. Your healthcare team can not only help you recover faster, but also help you find activities to maintain your fitness while safely working around an injury or illness.