IPL 2020: Deconditioning is reversible once you get active again, says Fitness Expert Zareen Siddique

Updated: 16 September, 2020 16:31 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

The NASM Certified Trainer discusses Fitness Levels and shares Expert Tips on Training Recovery for Sports Enthusiasts

Zareen Siddique
Zareen Siddique

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is scheduled to take place from September 19 to November 8 and we will finally be able to see our favourite cricketers in action. As they get back into shape and resume their strenuous fitness routines after hiatus due to COVID-19 lockdown, training recovery becomes crucial. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), training recovery is a critical component of an exercise program, and for most people, this consists of one to three days of rest depending on the intensity of the activity.

We spoke to fitness and nutrition coach Zareen Siddique about the effects of a prolonged period of inactivity. She explained, “When your time off exercise goes beyond a few days you risk the effects of detraining. Detraining is a phenomenon in which you lose the beneficial effects of training, but the good news is that it is reversible.” Zareen discusses training benefits, deconditioning, muscle memory, and shares easy tips on how to retrain.

What causes a drop in fitness levels for active people and what does it mean?

Fitness loss in active adults is dependent on several factors: length of time off, age, and level of fitness.  When we speak of training benefits we talk of increases of glycolytic and oxidative enzymes, increased muscle capillarisation, better phosphocreatine re-synthesis, and regulation of lactate threshold.

Detraining results in partial or even complete reversal of these adaptations, alongside reduced muscle mass due to reductions in fibre cross-sectional area and decreased capllilarisation. Deconditioning (which is a result of detraining) leads to loss of strength, the muscle’s ability to bear load. There is increased fatigue due to oxidative losses.

How much time does it usually take to see a drop in fitness levels?

The time it takes to lose fitness levels depends on how fit you are and the levels of your training. Trained athletes will have gradual changes during detraining than average gym-goers. In terms of time, someone who is moderately fit will take two to four weeks to feel the effects of deconditioning. Most important for trained athletes is the body’s ability to effectively use oxygen, called VO2 max gained through exercise. The decline in aerobic capacity shows within two to four weeks of detraining. For athletes, a detraining period of close to 12 weeks results in decreased muscle mass, muscular strength, Vo2 max.

What are the main things we should be concerned about when we skip exercise?

There are two main factors to worry about during the no exercise period:

1. Exercise is an effective way to lower blood glucose levels, but if you stop working out, your blood sugar levels may remain elevated after a meal.

2. You’re not burning the same amount of calories as you used to because you’re moving less, so if you don’t adjust your food intake accordingly, calories will be stored as fat.

How can we Re-train?

Deconditioning is reversible once you get active again. But you must ease back into your workouts to avoid injury. It is important that you start slow after a long detraining gap.

1. Cross-train or try lighter activities like yoga, walking, or bike rides, or slow jogs.

2. Use props at home or stairs workout for shorter workouts.

3. Break your workout into several shorter sessions.

4. Limit high-intensity workouts to one or two days a week.

5. Maintain nutrition according to changing physical needs especially protein to aid muscle recovery and growth.

Do remember, even a mildly active person may expend 2,500 calories in a day, yet a one-hour run will burn only about 400 calories. It’s not about your one hour workout, but what you do the entire day that determines your fat levels and health.

How does our body speed up Retraining?

The good news is that retraining can occur quicker as a result of a phenomenon called muscle memory.  It probably won’t take as long to retrain to your peak condition as muscle memory works in your favour. Essentially, your muscles have special cells in muscle fibres that ‘remember’ previous training movements so that when you get back to working out after a layoff, you are able to regain lost muscle quicker.

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First Published: 16 September, 2020 15:13 IST

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