More Americans are feeling the impact of declining fitness; Sanford POWER coaches said it’s possible to rebuild routines

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — We’ve all heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” but what does it mean in the exercise world? A National Library of Medicine study reports that nearly a third of American adults have experienced reduced physical activity during the pandemic. And the CDC reports that, despite everything, American adults aren’t getting enough exercise.

Coaches say it’s common for them to hear someone say, “I was in great shape before I took that job” or “before I got that injury.”

“I had an injury in high school that really set me back. You know, I had to miss sports and that was really devastating for me. And so, for me, it was the baby steps. For to me it was boring because I like to see progress right away, but that’s not how fitness works,” said Sanford POWER intern Joshua Lardy.

Simply put, deconditioning happens when your strength decreases with less activity. In the short term, trainers say you may not notice much change, but in the long term, declining activity can negatively affect your body, impacting muscles, including muscular organs like the heart, bone density and metabolism, among other things.

“The longer you’re out, the harder it is to get back into things,” said Chris Rivinius, director of Sanford POWER.

Rivinius says when you approach training again, it’s important to do so safely. He says starting small can help prevent injury.

“The most important thing is to have process goals and to do more than what you are doing now. Think of it, no pun intended, think of it more like a marathon than a sprint when trying to get back in shape,” Rivinius said.

At Sanford’s POWER Gym in Bismarck, he demonstrates moves like squats, RDLs, hip joints, and push-pull movements that help build strength, stabilization, and mobility. He says keeping good form is key to injury prevention, especially when your body has taken a beating. Exercising at the gym isn’t the only place to start.

“Just do more than what you are currently doing. Find something that matches your everyday lifestyle. Find something you like,” Rivinius said.

Whether you like going to the gym.

“It’s just kind of an escape. It’s a mental release for me,” Lardy added.

If you prefer other methods of movement, coaches say to give yourself grace and not compare yourself to what you see online.

“In American culture, everything goes fast, we like quick fixes. We want everything now. But if you’re going to do it right and it’s going to be habits you stick with long-term, think more baby changes over time,” Rivinius said.

Rivinius says that if you’re trying to build muscle, it takes six to eight weeks to see measurable changes in body composition.

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