The old saying, “Use it or lose it” is especially true when it comes to fitness. If you do not exercise you will not be fit. However, sometimes you do need to take some time off. How long before your results start to fade?

Gaining muscle does not come always come easy to people.  Our bodies lose muscle mass as we age. After the age of 30, we can lose 3% to 5% of our mass per decade.  Exercise helps us maintain muscle mass and even increase it.  For athletes, gaining muscle is a primary goal. Even for the average person maintaining a solid frame helps with posture, balance, and daily tasks.

If you exercise regularly and need to miss some workout time, how long does it take to lose muscle? Science suggests the answer is 72 hours. If you do not exercise at all, you will start to lose muscle mass after 72 hours. The heart is a muscle so you will become a little more winded than normal after 72 hours. There are many factors involved. Your body type, age and fitness level have a lot to do with how much muscle you could lose over time. If you are already very fit, you will not lose your fitness as quick as if you are a beginner. Deconditioning takes longer in more fit people.

For cardiovascular conditioning, you start deconditioning in 7 to 14 days. It is a slow process depending on how fit you are to begin with.  If you are very fit, you will not lose the strength and stamina as quickly.

If you need to take time off, you can easily take a week without much change in your condition.  However, a prolonged stoppage of exercise will result in a loss of muscle and aerobic conditioning.

While you are not exercising consistently, anything you can do for fitness in the meantime will help.  Walking, jogging, stretching. Any activity you can do will prolong the loss of muscle and aerobic fitness. You can go an extended period with a lighter exercise load and not completely lose your overall fitness.

The good news is you can get your fitness back. Your mind and your body know you have achieved a level of fitness before and you can get it back.  If you start your consistent workouts again, you will find you make gains faster than you did originally.  You know you can be fit, and you have the confidence and drive to exercise and reach your previous level of fitness.

Staying consistent is the best thing you can do.  Your body responds well to consistent exercise and you can get continual results. If you must take time off, try not to become sedentary.  Do some exercise if you can.  If you cannot, you will lose some muscle and aerobic conditioning, but stay positive and remember you can get it back!

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