If I Stop Exercising, How Much Strength Will I Lose?
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If I Stop Exercising, How Much Strength Will I Lose?

Even if your exercise routine has slowed to zilch lately, you don't have to start at the bottom. Our expert describes how to regain any strength you've lost from inactivity.
Question: "I've fallen off the exercise wagon in the past couple of months. How much strength have I lost, and how quickly can I get it back?"

Answer: Once you resume your routine, you should see results in three to four weeks. Research shows that it takes twice as long to lose strength as to gain it, says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts.

One study found that with two months of weight training, participants had gained 47 percent more strength; after two months of inactivity, they'd lost only 23 percent. Get motivated by setting a new fitness goal, and start at about half the difficulty level of where you left off (say, doing biceps curls with a 5-pound weight rather than a 10-pound one).

Originally published in Fitness magazine.