Here’s a study you all would line up to participate in–the couch potato special. This study, conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, recruited five healthy young men for participation. What a golden opportunity, all they had to do was spend three weeks resting in bed. Who wouldn’t love to be part of a research project like that? It was fine while it lasted, but when the three weeks were over, the whole project didn’t seem to be such a good idea.
The men were tested before and after the test. The changes after just three weeks showed devastating changes in resting heart rates, higher systolic blood pressure, drop in the heart maximum pumping capacity, increase in body fat and loss of muscle strength. In three short weeks, the formerly fit 20 year olds presented many of the physical characteristics of unfit men at least twice their age. Luckily for the subjects, the testers didn’t leave them stranded with one foot in a nursing home. The men were put on an 8-week exercise program, which brought them back to, and even above their pre-test fitness level.
This test is a dramatic example of how harmful it is not to be moving around. After space travelers were studied, scientists were aware of the deteriorating effects of inactivity, and this couch potato study furthered the knowledge of just how harmful bed rest is.
Thankfully, this is not the end of the story, as I hope your own commitment to the couch is not the end of the story. The test resumed some thirty years later when the couch potato volunteers were re-examined. By revisiting the scene 30 years later, the Texas researchers have further been able to investigate the interaction between exercise and aging. All the men were still in reasonably good health, but not fit. They had gained an average of 50 pounds. Their body fat had doubled, cardiac function suffered, resting pulse rose, heart rate and blood pressure increased and the heart pumping capacity fell. They were offered a second chance, an exercise program tailored to their needs. Slowly and steadily they were encouraged in a gradually increasing endurance program. At the end of 6 months on the exercise program, the men regained their 30-year previous heart rates, blood pressures, and heart maximum capacity.
Let the message be heard, couches are fine, after you have done your workout. If you are looking for a long and active life, the body’s need for motion needs to be respected. Why not go out and take a walk right now? Don’t delay; get started with your personal campaign to turn back the hands of time.