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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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'Use or lose' your lifestyle choices

Are you ready?
with Leigh Elder

A few decades ago an active lifestyle was normal – most people had no choice. We’re designed to walk and move, and our body is comprised of 206 bones and more than 639 muscles.

But de-training – or stopping exercising – aging and modern lifestyles all have one thing in common: decreased activity.

Ever heard of the expression ‘Use it or lose it’? Well it’s true, and the scary thing is, the effect is even more powerful than you may think.

In healthy, young individuals, reducing normal activity by less than half for three days – for example, from doing more than 10,000 steps to less than 5,000 steps – sparks a significant decrease in glucose tolerance after meals.

Three weeks of bed rest in young individuals caused a greater deterioration in cardiovascular and physical work capacity than 30 years of aging.

Evidence of the effects of ‘de-training’ can be seen in the evolution of the modern body type in comparison to the hunter-gatherer.

It’s also evident in aging, bed rest, retiring from sport, being in the off-season for sports, retiring from physically demanding jobs or following an injury, such as a broken leg

These all have one thing in common – they lead to decreased activity.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself. After a month of being super-motivated, hitting the gym several times a week and even heading out for the odd run, you suddenly stop.

This may be for reasons such as injury, holidays, the weather, work, getting busy or just getting lazy.

Then after a week or so, you rediscover the motivation, but you soon find yourself back to where you were before – all that fitness has been lost!

So, summing all this up – once you start, if at all possible, do not stop completely or for an extended period because it’s likely you will undo most, if not all of the good you worked so hard to achieve.

Regular physical activity needs to be a long-term lifestyle change. And, ‘regular’ is the key word.

A couple of big sessions at the gym a week ain’t going to get the job done. Try and do some exercise every day and the gym sessions will act as a great bonus.

Any feedback is appreciated – call: 027 2941980 or email:


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Rotorua lake, Mokoia island and a manned canoe.  Photo: Thirza Fleeson.

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