Do You Lose It If You Don't Use It?

There's an old saying that goes: if you don't use it, you lose it.

Generally there's a couple schools of thought on the matter as to whether that statement, as vague as it is, has any validity to it. So I'm going to quickly go over that here, as it might save many of you from losing things that you don't currently use.

I think the best way to examine this is to pick a number of different cases where this sort of conjecture might apply, and then weigh the evidence for or against and decide from there.

First Case: Muscle

If you don't use it, you lose it = True

If you don't use it, you definitely lose it. That's a well known fact, though you don't lose actual muscle, but the muscle density that results from use. I don't need to cite any studies to back up these claims but incase you're skeptical click here

The solution to this one is to exercise if and when you can, or to go out for walks if you're able.

Second Case: Fat

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

Technically speaking, your body fat is stored energy. No matter how fit you are, your body will always maintain a certain level of body fat (about 4% to 8%). The reasons for going above these levels can be related to genetics, metabolism and quantity of food consumed versus daily activity level.

So let's look at that saying again: if you don't use it, you lose it. In this case that saying is definitely wrong. Body fat is stored energy. The only way to lose it is if you use it. If you don't use it, it will stay right where it is on your body.

The ways to lose it are by having an activity level that consumes more energy than your daily intake, to diet or to carefully fast. In any case in these situations, you should consult with your own qualified family Doctor or Physician.

Third Case: Reading/Writing

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

If you've learned to read and write, which most of us learn at a young age, its an ability that's with you for life, bar dementia or a number of other brain dysfunctions.

No matter your age once, you've learned, you can pick up a pen and write simple dirty limericks to contrived essays about old sayings. Its with you for life.

Fourth Case: Swimming/Bicycle Riding

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

Like reading and writing, once you've learned to swim or ride a bicycle, its with you for life, even if you learn at a later age. The evidence supporting this is staggering.

Fifth Case: Driving

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

Once again, we find that in the case of driving, the statement is false. There are few people who forget how to drive once they've learned, even if years pass since the last time they did it (similarly to swimming or bicycling).

Sixth Case: Ownership

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

If you buy a house, and you never live in it, twenty years down the road assuming that you kept paying your property tax, you'd still own it. If you have an old phone that you've long since replaced with a newer model, chances are your old phone is still with you unless you sold it or donated it. The truth is that the things that you own that you don't use, don't simply just spontaneously disappear, unless you relieve yourself of them in some way, or someone takes them from you.

Seventh Case: Companionship

If you don't use it, you lose it = True

Let's face it. If you're in a romantic relationship with someone else, chances are that they'll be gone if you stop paying them the attention they deserve. Neglect is one of the biggest factors involved in break-ups and divorce, hence if you don't actively take part in your relationship, you'll lose it, unless your spouse is just as neglectful as are you. In that case, the two of you can live happily together without each other's company.

Eighth Case: Mind/Intellect/Brain Health

If you don't use it, you lose it = True

Just like your muscles, if you don't keep that 2 pounds of flesh inside your skull well exercised with activity every day, chances are it won't function as readily as time goes on. If you want to be sharp and quick witted, challenge it every day with something that keeps it engaged.

Ninth Case: Credit

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

If you have a reasonable credit score, and you don't use it, but you participate in the world daily as a consumer, buying things on your bank card without drawing upon your credit, it will not shrink. If anything, it will remain the same and in some cases, it might actually grow, though the best way to build it is to use it and pay it off and quickly as you can. Not using it however will not result in its loss.

Tenth Case: Diversity Of Skill

If you don't use it, you lose it = False

If you have a multitude of skills as many adaptable people do in the modern economy, when you work one day using only one particular skill, you don't suddenly lose all of your other skills. When the next day comes, you'll be able to use any one of them you choose for the particular challenge you're facing. So this case is definitely a big false.

How many people do you know who work a day job using a variety of skills, suddenly forget how to drive their car when they go to leave? Then after being forced to use transit, they've forgotten how to cook? How to garden? How to care for their pets? We don't lose the skills we've temporarily put to the back seat when we don't use them.


We've gone over nine different very valid cases that are common in just about everyone's life in a very simplistic but valid way. Let's tabulate the results:

True: 3
False: 7

You might come up with your own cases where this old saying applies, but overall it seems that for the most part, its not applicable to many situations, and statistically speaking from what we've examined here, its only right less than a third of the time, largely dependent upon the specific case to which its applied. Hence, I tend not to live by that saying, but I'd definitely heed it when it comes to those three cases, but likely few other cases.

So those of you who are YouTubers, you don't suddenly lose your skills as a video artist/editor when you don't post a video for a day. That truck driver who drives all day doesn't lose his/her skill fixing up old cars in their garage when they get home. You're not going to lose weight by any other means than making an effort to do so.

I hope that made a difference in your lives, and I'll be back tomorrow and over the weekend with the content you've been waiting for.

Have a great evening. :-)