Accessibility View Close toolbar

Entropy, the Gym, and You

Let’s say you’ve been taking some time off from the gym. Maybe you reached the end of your 12-week training cycle and you’re taking a week off. It’s possible that one week turns into two or even three or four weeks. Life happens, you need to attend to some pressing matters, and going to the gym starts to take a back seat. Before you know it, two or three months have passed by. Suddenly, you’re no longer a person who goes to the gym, but a person who needs to figure out a way to get back to the gym on a regular basis. “What happened to me?” you wonder. “Where did the time go?” Now you have to actually exert effort to fit “workout time” into your schedule. You scratch your head and ponder. “I thought I had this all covered,” you think, not for the first time.

What happened to you and your well-made plans was entropy, that insidious force in the universe that turns order into disorder. The basic rule is that any organized system, left unattended, will immediately begin to break down. As a mundane example, those piles of papers on your desk keep reaccumulating as a result of entropy. The weeds in your garden? Entropy. The dust bunnies in your attic and basement? Entropy. The collapse of your plan for doing regular workouts? Entropy.

What’s worse, entropy takes a serious toll on your physical fitness.1,2 If you miss enough time from the gym, all your fitness gains begin to melt away. First, your muscles begin to lose their stores of energy. Glycogen, the complex sugar that supplies energy for muscle work, is broken down for use elsewhere. Arterioles and capillaries, small blood vessels that were needed to supply nutrients to your growing muscles, are no longer required and rapidly disappear. Muscle fibers that were continually added to support your exercise activities are cannibalized, so that their constituent parts may be used for other physiological processes. Entropy launches a process of randomization that breaks down your carefully built-up muscular structure. Your body, being very smart, metaphorically swoops in and moves all those metabolic components to other structures and systems for more efficient use.

The superficial result is loss of muscle definition. The deeper result is loss of muscle tone.3 Your cardiorespiratory system (heart and lungs), digestive system, and metabolism are all affected, as these physiologic systems are no longer required to be functioning at peak to support a regular vigorous exercise program. Entropy sets in to all these systems, as well. The overall result is a profound impact on your health and well-being.

The good news is we can help keep entropy at bay. But doing so requires attention and determination. We want to attend to our bodies as carefully and regularly as we attend to the environment of our home, office, and garden. Just as our cars, motorcycles, and bicycles require periodic maintenance, our bodies require much more frequent care, care on a daily and weekly basis. It’s fine to occasionally skip a week or two, or even a month if needed, of exercise. But we must make sure we get right back on schedule to ensure benefits to our short-term and long-term health.

1Barwais FA, et al: Physical activity, sedentary behavior and total wellness changes among sedentary adults: a 4-week randomized controlled trial. Health Qual Life Outcomes 2013 Oct 29;11:183. doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-11-183

2Loprinzi PD, Lee H: Rationale for promoting physical activity among cancer survivors: literature review and epidemiologic examination. Oncol Nurs Forum 2014 Mar 1;41(2):117-25. doi: 10.1188/14.ONF.117-125.

3Ricci-VItor AL, et al: Influence of the resistance training on heart rate variability, functional capacity and muscle strength in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 49(6):793-801, 2013

New patients receive a free consultation!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Tuesday:

2pm - 6pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Appointment Only

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

  • "Dr. Blair and his staff are wonderful, caring individuals who have always given my family the best care. You guys are amazing!"
  • Ice Capades

    In the depths of winter, adults, as well as children, exert themselves to engage in enjoyable outdoor activities that will keep them warm and provide both excitement and entertainment. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating all have their enthusiasts. Many ...

    Read More
  • Being a Change Agent

    Being a Change Agent For most of us, change happens slowly, if at all. But as the recent holiday season fades into the distance, many of us wish to be increasingly proactive this year and take real action on the numerous New Year's resolutions that we made in regard to our health and well-being. Back ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Cheer

    In early winter, whether we're celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, both or nothing at all, families and friends gather to share food and drink and give thanks for a year successfully completed. We send up a rousing holiday cheer and share delicious holiday cheer in celebration of our accomplishments and ...

    Read More
  • A User's Guide to Healthy Knees

    Healthy knees require continuous motion. However, our generally sedentary lifestyles are at odds with the maintenance of robust knee joint architecture. Left motionless throughout large portions of the day, over time knee cartilage will break down and knee ligaments will become lax. These chronic changes ...

    Read More
  • Detective Story

    When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes applied himself to a difficult case, he famously utilized his powers of deduction. Holmes assembled and examined the facts before him and employed a scientific method of analysis to arrive at a solution that took into account of all the elements of the ...

    Read More
  • Learning From History

    Whether we're driving a car, riding a bike, or trying to record a spare at our local bowling alley, our musculoskeletal system bases its decision-making on past history, that is, what it has learned before. Drawing on years of experience, recorded deep within our muscle memory, we're able to avoid an ...

    Read More
  • A Center for Health

    Mindfulness programs and practices frequently describe a process of locating your "center." One's center may be conceived as a focus of energy, both spiritual and physical, by which all activities may be grounded and from which all activities flow. Similarly, ballet teachers and gymnastics instructors ...

    Read More
  • Wildfire Inside of You

    Comparisons between the inner world and the outer world have been frequently drawn by philosophers, nature writers, and visual artists. For example, "seeing the universe in a grain of sand" is a well-known aphorism. The number of neurons in your brain has been compared to the number of stars in the Milky ...

    Read More
  • Hitting for the Cycle

    In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. ...

    Read More
  • Find Inspiration in Walden

    In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup