Stuck Inside – How Fast We Become Unfit?

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, most of us are home bound following Federal & State authorities’ recommendations. This recommended ‘Social distancing’ measure creates some anxieties for people who have develop a regular workout activities in local their gyms or running outside in the parks.

One of the general questions many of us have is, how quickly our body starts exhibiting signs of abnormalities after reducing regular activities or workout routine?

How Fast We Become Unfit?

In a recent article in The New York Times Well columnist Gretchen Reynolds writes that she reach out to virologists, physiologists & other scientists to find answers to the above & other questions. The article summarizes key points of her conversation. On how fast out body starts becoming unfit, the reporter writes:

  • Fit runners started showing signs of changes in their cardiovascular systems after about two weeks, according to a 2018 study.
  • In a similar study when healthy young people cut back from 10,000 steps/day to below 2000 steps they started showing higher levels of blood sugar, lower insulin sensitivity, worse cholesterol within two weeks.

How Long It Takes To Recover?

In the article, quoting from Kelly Bowden Davies, a lecturer at Newcastle University, Ms Gretchen writes that “once the young people returned to their normal activities, their metabolic consequences receded within the next two weeks. Increasing daily steps was enough to restore normal health.

Quoting from the conversation with Dr Charles Pedlar (Associate professor of exercise science at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England) Ms Gretchen writes that “most of us can expect to recover our former fitness quickly, even if we must temporarily reduce our training. The first few runs or workouts after such a layoff can feel slow and wretched. Any reductions in blood volume and stamina should soon be regained. Don’t panic. But know that you can come back.”

There is evidence that even about five minutes a day of mini-workouts could be sufficient to help us maintain a baseline of fitness.

Prof Martin Gibala, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (source: The New York Times)

Key take home message is, even though we are home bound we should be moving around the rooms or stairs (if available) as much as possible.


Content of this Notes post was inspired by & sourced from the New York Times Article Exercising During Coronavirus: Can I Jog? Is That Water Fountain Safe? by Gretchen Reynolds.