The ‘use it or lose it’ theory has changed: A surprising way your muscles respond to exercise
(NaturalHealth365) “Use it or lose it.” You’ve heard that saying before. Simply put, if you don’t exercise – for a long enough period of time – your muscles will lose their strength and all your hard work (previously done) in training and recovery will be for nothing.
But, wait a minute: this is only true to an extent. New information revealed in a breaking new review from Frontiers in Physiology adds an important nuance to this well-known adage. The authors of the review propose a better way to say it: “Use it or lose it…until you use it again.”
Great news for people not doing any exercise, research reveals
What happens to your muscles when you workout? You probably have heard how muscle fibers undergo microscopic damage and inflammation. Ever wonder why?
This is actually necessary in order to trigger the rebuilding and recovery phase which ultimately leads to bigger and stronger muscles.
Muscles cells also gain nuclei (otherwise known as cell brains) when you exercise. These nuclei are thought to contribute to two helpful phenomenons:
- Muscle memory, the ability to perform a movement with less conscious effort because your body “remembers” how to do it, and
- The ability to regain your strength after a period of inactivity faster than it took you to get strong in the first place.
Here’s the interesting part discovered by the researchers: muscles do of course grow weaker and smaller after periods of physical inactivity, whether brought on by injury, illness, disease, or even periods of busy schedules or laziness.
BUT, the exercise-induced muscle nuclei don’t go away – ever!
This means once we get these nuclei into our muscles, we have permanently gifted ourselves with little hacks that will help us gain our muscles back faster once we start retraining.
Hence: “Use it or lose it…until you use it again.”
THIS is why it’s so important to encourage children to stay physically active
The researchers draw a few major conclusions from their findings.
First of all, children and young adults should be encouraged to be as physically active as much as possible in order to “bank” muscle nuclei at an early age. Having a rich supply of these nuclei early in life can potentially mitigate the effects of age-related problems.
Secondly, the researchers point out that competitive athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs can expect to have an unfair advantage over their clean competitors even long after they’ve stopped using them. Why? Remember that training permanently increases the number of muscle nuclei – and even more so when training is enhanced by anabolic steroids!
This has potential implications for drug testing policies and procedures among professional and competitive sports. And, no, we don’t endorse the use of steroids.
As for you, this new data will hopefully inspire you to get out and get physical ASAP, so you can start building up your muscle nuclei supply, too.
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