What happens when you stop exercising


Sometimes you find yourself working overtime or getting injured and you realize that maybe it’s time to quit from your workout routine for a while. You decide to freeze your gym membership until next month to give yourself a rest. Then the holidays roll around, and you know that it’s time to indulge yourself in food and drink treats you’ve skipped for a while. And you then you continue to skip working out for another month.

Congratulations, you’re right back to square one. You completely quit your workout routine. But, did you know that there are dangers lurking around when you stop exercising? For a day or two, you might not feel drastic difference. But as the time goes by, you’ll find that you don’t feel and look like when you’re working out anymore.

Whatever reason behind it, the absence of workouts will cause your body to lose some of the progress it had made. Here we elaborate how an exercise hiatus impacts your body:

Body weight and fat gains

When you’re used to regular exercise and you suddenly stop working out, you’ll likely start to notice increases in body fat and are at risk for weight gain. A study published in 2014 found that soccer players who de-trained for six-weeks had increases in body fat and body weight. However, you can prevent weight gain by controlling or reducing your daily calorie intake.

Decreasing cardiovascular fitness

Aerobic fitness is defined as the ability of the body to transport and utilize oxygen from your blood in your muscles. According to Danielle Weis, doctor of physical therapy with Spring Forward Physical Therapy in New York City, the measure of aerobic fitness (VO2 max) decreases after one to two weeks of inactivity. If you are a seasonal exerciser, you’ll lose your aerobic fitness faster.

Reductions in strength and muscle

When you stop working out for an extended period of time, your body starts to lose strength and muscle mass, especially if you’re accustomed to regular resistance training. A study published in 2010 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reports that highly-trained athletes who stopped exercising for five weeks showed significant decreases in strength. Noticeable changes when attempting to lift your usual amount of weight show up in two to three weeks after you stop working out.

Decreasing athletic performance

Regardless of the type of regular workouts you’re used to participating in, when you stop exercising you’ll slowly lose endurance, power and strength—which are important aspects of being fit. Many studies examine effects of exercise de-training over a period of five to six weeks, but you may start to become unfit in just two weeks.

Higher blood pressure

Because exercise is known to help lower blood pressure, it’s no surprise that stopping your regular workouts can cause increases in blood pressure. However, just because you stop working out doesn’t mean you’re certain to have high blood pressure. In addition to getting regular exercise, other ways to lower or control blood pressure include reducing dietary sodium, achieve or maintain a healthy body weight, manage stress, and live healthily.