Research which highlights changes to the human body during lockdown and other sedentary situations is having a huge impact among scientists worldwide.
The position-point paper – co-authored by Professor Costis Maganaris in the LJMU Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences – summarises the rate of loss of strength and fitness of forced sedentarism due to COVID-19 and makes recommendations for effective exercise and nutritional counteractions.
Only published in mid-May, it is already the 12th most downloaded paper in the history of the well-known European Journal of Sport Science. In the USA alone, it has had almost 3,000 downloads.
Costis and the team, led by Marco Narici of Padova University, Italy, highlighted that just two days of sedentary lifestyle are sufficient to induce muscle loss, neuromuscular junction damage, decreased aerobic capacity, fat deposition and low-grade systemic inflammation.
Muscles waste in 48 hours
They write: “The COVID-19 pandemic has seen entire populations living in home-confinement for weeks or months, with significant health risks. This paper describes the impact of sedentarism on the human body at the level of the muscular, cardiovascular, metabolic, endocrine and nervous systems and is based on evidence from several models of inactivity, including bed rest, unilateral limb suspension, and step-reduction.
“Data from these studies show that muscle wasting occurs rapidly, being detectable within two days of inactivity.”
To counter these deleterious effects, the group recommend low to medium-intensity high volume resistive exercise which they say is easily implementable in home-settings, and will have positive effects, particularly if combined with a 15–25% reduction in daily energy intake.