It’s easy to find an excuse to not go to the gym. You’re tired. You’re busy. It’s the holidays, and you’re eating way more calories in junk food than you could ever burn off, anyway (yeah, that one’s mine). However, if you, like me, have been skipping out on your regular exercise sessions, it doesn’t take long for those delicious Christmas cookies and Netflix binges to have some negative consequences when it comes to your health. Read on to see 7 scary things that happen to your body when you stop working out.
Your Blood Pressure Increases
This happens pretty much instantly, as your blood pressure is already higher on days you don’t exercise than on the days that you do. After two weeks of skipping gym sessions, your blood vessels adapt to your more sedentary lifestyle, which causes your blood pressure to rise a little further. Luckily, this all happens in reverse the second you start working up a sweat again.
You’re at a Higher Risk for Diabetes
Typically your blood glucose rises after you eat, then drops as your muscles and other tissues suck up the sugar they need for energy. However, once you start skipping your training sessions in favor of Netflix marathons, your post meal blood sugar levels remain elevated instead. This change happens after about a week of inactivity, and your glucose levels can continue to increase the longer you stay sedentary - and that can raise your risk for diabetes. Thankfully one week of regular exercise can help post-meal blood sugar levels drop dramatically.
You Lose Gains
All of that hard work can disappear pretty quickly - especially when you’ve spent about 2 weeks away from the gym. Depending on how sedentary you’ve become, some muscles may start to shrink even sooner. While it will definitely take you longer to rebuild your muscle mass than it took to lose it, you’re still at an advantage when compared to people who have never set foot in a gym. Thanks to your previous good habits, you’ll be able to gain back that muscle mass at a faster rate than a total newbie.
Your Cardio Suffers
Skipping out on exercise for as little as two weeks can leave you gasping for breath after taking on a flight of stairs. That’s because you’ll get much less efficient at transforming oxygen into energy after even just a couple of weeks of inactivity. Like strength training, it always takes longer to get back your cardio than it does to lose it. However, it’s never too late to get back into good habits.
Your Metabolism Slows Down
Drop your exercise routine for more than a week, and your muscles already start to lose their fat burning potential. And a slower metabolism means that your body has more opportunity to pack on the pounds. You’ll likely start to find that you plump up a little bit after a moderately extended break from the gym - and it’ll take about twice as long as you were away to get your toned body back. However, even managing to squeeze in one workout a week (instead of ditching exercise completely) can help to fast forward this process.
You Get Moody
Exercise is known to provide an instant mood lift. Unfortunately the benefits of your sweat sessions will disappear after just two weeks on the sidelines. Tired and grumpy are some of the feelings regular exercisers report after skipping too many workouts. The good news is, the fitter you were before taking a break, the faster the positive brain effects will return. So don’t wait to get back into a regular fitness routine.
It's believed that people who stop exercising, or who don't exercise at all, are at a greater risk for sleep apnea than those who commit to a regular routine of light exercise. Just 150 minutes of exercise a week will help improve your sleep and make you feel more alert during the day.
If you're feeling stressed out lately over things that normally wouldn't cause you anxiety, chances are it's because you aren't getting enough exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which you need to feel more relaxed and happy. If you have suddenly stopped exercising and are feeling stressed you need to find a way to start working out again – even if it's just for 30 minutes a day.
When you have a good work out you feel like eating healthy. I mean, who wants to blow all that hard work and sweat on a piece of high-calorie pizza? But, if you don't work out, you're more likely to feel lazy and tired, which will have you reaching for easy and quick take-out food. You will pack on the pounds more quickly and, because you aren't exercising, you won't have any way to get rid of the extra weight.
It's believed that lack of exercise will decrease your ability to grow brain cells while increasing your chances of suffering from depression. This alone should be reason enough to get you up off the couch and outside for a brisk walk or run. Exercising is not only good for your body, it's good for your mind and for your mental health.
Perhaps you haven't stopped working out, but you've stopped doing a certain workout and switched it for another one. What can you expect? Well, don't expect much – in terms of success if you want to switch back to your first choice. You need to realize that the strength you had built up in your first class may have been lost when you switched to the other class. But don't let it deter you. You were successful at it before and can get the strength back. And there is no reason you can't continue to do both classes. It's your body, so just listen to it and do the best you can do.
If you stopped working out because of an injury, you should realize that a return to exercise must be taken slowly. Just like someone who has willingly given up on exercise, your body has lost muscle and gained fat. So when you're ready to return, focus on lifting a much lighter load that you did before. Focusing on proper form is better that trying to lift too much in the wrong way.
No matter what you're addicted to – gambling, alcohol, drugs or exercise, stopping it abruptly will result in withdrawal symptoms. Those who stop exercising can suffer from changes in their sleep patterns, performance, energy levels and their ability to concentrate. They may experience restlessness, frustration and a feeling of guilt. Not only can your body suffer, but your social life, family life and work will also suffer.
What to do?
Now that you know how your body can be affected, it's time to make some changes and get back to a consistent exercise routine. Try just 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity that will strengthen your heart and improve your entire body. If you stop exercising abruptly it can be life threatening, so talk to your doctor about finding a proper routine that suits you so you will be sure to continue on a healthy path.
It’s Harder to Get Back at It
The longer you’ve been away, the harder it is to return to your regular exercise schedule. That’s because it’s easy to fill an hour at the gym with other things - from work, to chauffeuring the kids to and from activities. However, it’s important to take that time for yourself, and make exercise a habit once again. Sure it’ll take a bit of time, but the health results are well worth the effort.