In 1966 a legendary study from Dallas was published where they studied the effect of total inactivity for 3 weeks. After this 3 week period, the so-called “Dallas bed-rest study” found an increase in body weight, body-fat and a marked decline in fitness level. 30 years later they followed up the same participants and re-examined their health status. As one might expect after 30 years of aging, both body weight, body fat percentage and fitness declined from the happy 20s (before the 3 weeks of bed-rest). However, they found that they were in better shape after 30 years of aging than they were after 3 weeks of inactivity! What many researchers are asking now is if the decline in fitness associated with aging is caused by lower activity level with aging compared to activity level as young.
The Dallas study is perhaps a little extreme do you think? Because no one is totally inactive for Christmas? Maybe not, but someone else wanted to look at what happens to rats when they have trained hard for 4 weeks and then refrain from training the following 4 weeks. After the training period, they found a significant increase in fitness, as a result of improved cardiac function. After 4 weeks without training, all these improvements were lost.
So, enjoy the Christmas holiday, and hope you enjoy the good food, but also use the time to keep yourself active through something you think is fun and enjoy doing. If you are unsure of what to do, or lack motivation, we have a nice exercise program that you can try. Merry Christmas!
Read also: Why do some people get fitter than others?
Henning Ofstad Ness, PhD candidate at CERG