I was off the bike most of the summer due partly to medical issues and partly to laziness. I've been pretty consistent about exercising, but this six months or so of inactivity really knocked me out. Worst thing was the loss of mobility. Knees, ankles and hips all hurt, and I was stiff to the point that it was hard to get out of a chair or swing my leg over my bike. I seriously worried that I was headed for the couch for good.
Last month I got clearance to ride again. I've been doing what I can with the snow, but it hasn't been enough to make much difference. So a week ago--just a WEEK--I designed a basic flexibility and strengthening program just to see what would happen. It's simple stuff, a few resistance exercises and 20 minutes or so a day of stretching my hams, back and calves.
The difference is astonishing. I've always hated stretching and rarely done it, but this has really changed my outlook. I'm still coming down the stairs carefully in the morning, but after a few minutes I walk like a normal human, and I can get out of the La-Z-Boy without calling for help.
Moral of the story is...use it or lose it, I guess. But I'm 66, and it's working for me.