What Happens If You Just Stop Exercising
No matter how hard we try we're bound to miss a workout here and there. The problem is that if you start skipping more often or give yourself too many "rest days", then the benefits you gain from exercising regularly are lost.
Not only this, but a series of other negative effects happen to your body when you stop working out.
Lack of exercise influences not only how you look but also how you feel and represent yourself. It also hastens the aging process and you develop a higher risk for chronic illness.
In fact, it's been shown that the better conditioned you are, the faster you lose your hard-earned fitness condition. Of course, the precise extent of these losses depends on how long you don't exercise as well.
The good part is that no matter the cause for your falling off of the workout wagon – laziness, exhaustion, illness, conflict in schedules, injury, etc. – these conditions can be reversed if you resume your exercise routines and healthy lifestyle.
So what exactly are these effects? Here is a summary of what research finds will happen to your body when you stop exercising.
Loss Of Strength
This one is obvious, but to be exact strength loss occurs in the majority of people after about two and a half to three weeks of inactivity. This is strength loss we're talking about here, which is different than endurance.
The interesting this is this does not apply to endurance and power athletes with specialized skills. The muscular strength that they have worked so hard to amass tends to decrease at an even faster rate.
Research has shown over and over again that muscle power appears particularly susceptible to detraining in highly conditioned athletes.
This means that if you're thinking to yourself "Well I work out often so it would take a while to lose my gains." then think again because you'll actually lose them faster!
At first as you initially stop working out, you are still considered healthy by the exercise physiologists; but, it's not long before muscle atrophy sets in, and you start having problems with your joints and ligaments.
Your body starts to lose muscle tone and develop muscle atrophy, especially if you’re accustomed to regular resistance training.
The quads and biceps are usually the first ones to go, and even if you're not a highly trained athlete you will notice a significant loss of power, speed, agility, mobility, and coordination within just 10-28 days.
Within about a week, your muscles lose some of their fat-burning potential and your metabolism slows down. Although it's a myth that your muscles won’t convert to fat after you stop exercising – they will definitely begin to decline.
Fat will start to build up and cover them up.
More Fat And Body Weight
If you take an extended break from exercising, yet you continue to indulge in the unhealthy foods you enjoy – then your fat cells will have a feast! causing your body weight to soar.
Less exercise means a lower metabolism and less fat burning is a direct result of decreased exercise which means that you will gain fat and your body weight will soar.
A recent study was conducted with numerous professional male soccer players who quit exercising for six weeks.
This research concluded that there were definite increases in their body fat percentage and increases in body weight in these athletes.
Emotional And Brain Changes
Oxygen isn't only crucial for your lungs, but it is especially crucial to your brain. Lack of exercise actually causes ineffective conveyance of oxygen to your brain, which makes your body unable to suppress the chemicals that cause depression.
These changes will make you tired, gloomy, unable to focus, and just plain out of it, not to mention lower self-esteem.
There is another research study which used 10 sets of identical male twins between the ages of 32 and 36.
Although they had maintained the same level of physical activity and had similar diets most of their lives, their exercise habits differed over the 3 years.
The results showed that two issues brought about major changes in the test results:
1) consistent exercising and
2) the lack of consistent exercising or in one case, none at all.
The twins who exercised regularly were found to have lower body fat percentages. Their endurance levels were higher, and they actually had more gray brain matter (for information processing), mainly in areas controlling balance and motor function.
On the other hand, the twins who exercised less frequently, living more sedentary lifestyles for the 3 years, carried on average 7 more pounds of body fat, had less endurance, were nearing type 2 diabetes!
This study is a great warning of what will happen to your body when you stop exercising, and how detrimental that proves to be after only a brief time.
While some people may be hooked on gambling, alcohol, drugs, or sex, others are hooked on exercise. Just like with other addictions, when you stop doing the activities you undergo withdrawal symptoms.
People who exercise every day and who work out to deal with their stress, may experience withdrawals when they stop. These can include changes in their sleep patterns, performance, energy levels, and ability to concentrate.
So wow, these are some pretty serious problems...so what's a body to do? The answer seems pretty straightforward: get off that couch and get back on a regular exercise routine!
Come on, just 30 minutes of daily aerobic activity will strengthen your heart improve your whole body, and prevent the symptoms we discussed from happening to you.
Even if you're injured right now or sick, talk with your doctor/therapist to figure out what kind of exercises you CAN safely perform.
Failure to exercise can be a life threatening choice, especially when you just stop abruptly.
If you're serious about your health and well-being, then you must make a conscious decision to begin and stick with a structured exercise routine.