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As segments of the country reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are returning to physically demanding jobs, gyms and group sports activities after taking a break from their usual work and fitness routines.
There are ways for them to ease back into physical activity and reduce injury risk.
Normally active men and women who have been sheltering in place are likely to notice signs of physical deconditioning, such as declines in their cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and tone. Physical inactivity also lowers mood and energy levels because rigorous exercise induces positive chemical reactions at the cellular level.
When not exercising, the average adult loses 1-3 percent of muscle strength per day, with noticeable strength loss occurring within three weeks. A break from aerobic exercise is apparent with an increase in resting heart rate – four to 12 beats per minute higher a month. Meanwhile, after a month of cardio inactivity, maximal oxygen (VO2) gains achieved in the past two months are lost. (Vo2 is used to measure the amount of oxygen a person uses during intense exercise and assess energy production levels at the cellular level.)
Slower metabolism and burning fewer calories may also lead to unhealthy weight gain. Did you know that for every extra pound gained, four pounds of pressure are exerted on the knees?
Bryan Reich, a certified athletic trainer and director of WorkCare’s Industrial Athlete Program, recommends the following to reduce employees’ injury risk after a hiatus:
Remember, while there may be a temporary decline in performance compared to previous fitness levels, there is risk of injury caused by expecting someone to do too much too soon.
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