We’ve all heard it before… Use it or lose it.
This old adage is often applied to exercise. The idea is that if you stop working out, you may never get back to your former fitness level.
A new study shows that when it comes to muscle, this is not true. It turns out that once you have it, you never truly lose it.
For years, cell biologists were taught that if muscles went unused, the nuclei in muscle cells would be lost forever.
Without nuclei, building muscle is impossible. They are at the center of cells. They create and maintain muscle fibers.
But a new review published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology debunks the idea that muscle cell nuclei are destroyed by inactivity.
Scientists observed mouse muscle fibers and cells in the lab. They saw that nuclei gained through strength exercise persist even after the cells they inhabit shrink from lack of use.[i]
These dormant “myonuclei” wait indefinitely to be of use someday. When activity resumes, they quickly create new muscle.[ii]
So even if you build muscle and then are sedentary for years, you can go back to working out and gain muscle far faster than someone who has never worked out.
Professor Lawrence Schwartz was the main author of the paper.
The phrase “use it or lose it” would be more accurately expressed as “use it or lose it…until you work at it again,” he said.
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