Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain discuss the effects of quarantine and reduced activity on the human body.

Whether you are the beloved president of America or just an ordinary person, a 2 week period of physical inactivity can change your body in many unfavourable ways. In fact, research shows just 2 weeks without physical activity can lead to muscular and metabolic changes that increase a person’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even premature death. In one particular study, those who were 80 percent less active than what they were used to experienced weight-gain, lost muscle mass and increased total body fat, particularly around the abdomen. They were also unable to perform cardiovascular exercises at the same time and intensity that they could before the study began. Scary, right?

Of course, the speed of deconditioning would depend on various factors such as fitness, age and previous exercise habits. For the purposes of explanation however, we will give Mr Trump the short end of the stick and assume that he been physically inactive during his quarantine (don’t fire us please). Now let’s see what changes might’ve occurred in his body…

  1. Reduced aerobic capacity

Exercise is great for your heart – it gets more efficient at pumping blood and therefore, delivering oxygen to the rest of the body. So if Mr Trump went two weeks without physical activity, not only would his heart have begun to lose the ability to handle increased blood flow, but his body’s ability to use effectively utilise oxygen (referred to as VO2max) would’ve also declined.

Research from 2012 shows significant reductions in VO2max within 2-4 weeks of detraining, which is attributed to decrease blood volume and cardiac output. Another study found that most of the aerobic capacity gained through exercise over 2-3 months is lost within 2-4 weeks.

This means that if Mr Trump was sitting around during his quarantine, he would’ve started losing his cardiovascular fitness and found himself out of breath after climbing a few steps of the Grand Staircase.

  1. Reduced muscle endurance and power

A study in 2001 revealed that there are significant reductions in muscular endurance and power within 2-4 weeks of inactivity. Strength performance on the other hand can be maintained for up to 4 weeks. This would be good news for Mr Trump, as this would mean he could still use his full strength to lift America’s COVID restrictions eventually.

Interestingly, the composition of our muscle fibres can also change during periods of inactivity, whereby we gain higher percentage of type IIB muscle fibres (used in short-duration, high intensity bursts of effort). However, this type has the highest fatigue rate of our muscle fibres, which explains the reduction in muscle endurance.

  1. Blood pressure changes

One of the more well-known benefits of exercise is reducing blood pressure. In fact, exercise is a medically accepted lifestyle intervention used to treat hypertension. A study in 2014 looking at blood pressure responses in prehypertensive men found a drop in their blood pressure during 6 months of exercising, and conversely, a rise in blood pressure after just 2 weeks of inactivity.

This is not to say that Donald Trump would automatically have high blood pressure after 2 weeks of quarantine inactivity. However, if one already had hypertension and had been using exercise to lower it, they may need to consult with their health practitioner if they anticipate a period of inactivity.

  1. Increased blood sugar

After Donald Trump eats a meal, his blood glucose level rises then drops as his muscles and other tissues absorb the sugar for energy. Exercise is a great way to lower blood glucose levels as it creates a higher demand for energy. However, if he stopped exercising, his blood sugar levels may remain elevated after a meal.

A study in 2012 revealed that blood sugar levels stay elevated after just 3 days of inactivity in young, healthy individuals. Now why should Mr Trump worry about elevated sugar levels? If blood sugar levels are elevated for a long time, including a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney, nerve and eye damage.

  1. Increased fat mass

While Mr Trump makes clear that he is not afraid of COVID, he should be afraid of his blue suit feeling slightly tighter after a period of physical inactivity. Research has shown detraining may lead to negative effects on body composition, with an associated weight gain and decrease in metabolic rate.

This is because with reduced activity, comes reduced calorie requirement. If we do not adjust food intake accordingly, extra calories will be stored as fat. Furthermore, as we lose muscle mass, our
metabolism slows down since our muscles lose some of its ability to burn fat.

The human body, whether it is fit, unfit or Donald Trump’s, is a sensitive system that adapts to the training load that we give it.

If training demand is absent, our bodies have nothing to adapt to and thus our physiological parameters would slink back toward baseline levels.

The best way to minimise the negative physiological changes to our bodies is not to abandon exercise in the first place.  However, this doesn’t mean that we should never skip a workout in our life, as injuries and illnesses can definitely get in the way. Ultimately, it is important that we respect our bodies with adequate rest and recovery, then get back on it when we are feeling better.

Call Longevity, 1300 964 002

Written By Jackie Cheung