What Happens When You Stop Exercising

We often focus on the benefits of exercise, but have you ever considered the effect a lack of exercise has on your body? Without regular, light activity, the body begins to slip out of balance and out of health. Here are seven ways even a week of not exercising affects your health:

Insulin levels increase

After a week of not exercising, individuals develop a decreased sensitivity towards insulin (aka insulin resistance). Therefore, the body must create more and more insulin to do the same job. When high levels of insulin are carousing around in the body, not being put to any use, they cause inflammation and harm. Over time, these steadily rising levels due to lack of exercise increase your risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Muscle mass decreases

After a week of inactivity, your muscle mass will dwindle. Certain muscle will actually change form, into a type of muscle fiber that fatigues far more quickly. Retaining muscle mass is important, especially as you age, so skipping out on physical activity, even for a week, is not great.

Body fat increases

This should go without saying, but your metabolism suffers when you stop working out. As muscle mass decreases, they lose their capacity to burn fat, which mean your fat stores will begin to increase. By keeping muscles toned through light activity, they retain their fat burning capacity.

Blood pressure rises

On days you don’t exercise, your blood pressure is higher than it is on days you are active. Prolong your period of inactivity, and the blood pressure rise could increase to unhealthy levels. Over time, this puts you at great risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke.

You feel more stressed

When you exercise, you are protecting yourself from the harmful effects of daily stress. By ditching your regimen for a week, your body becomes less efficient in dealing with stress and you’re more prone to feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Bedroom life suffers

Not only does a lack of exercise make sleeping more difficulty, but it also affects other bedroom-related activities. Libido can be increased with exercise, so it only makes sense that a lack of exercise hurts your libido. And who can blame you? Without physical activity to help you burn through the build-up of stress and excess calories, you’re going to be in no mood to get it on.

Your brain suffers

Exercise encourages the growth of new brain cells. By not exercising, your memory functions less optimally, and you begin to experience poor focus and weak concentration. Brains that have not benefited from the effects of exercise in a week or two actually have less gray matter and decreased neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change and adapt). So, yes, exercise keeps you smart.

You’re at greater risk for depression

Exercise has well-documented happiness-boosting effects. It boosts endorphin levels, for instance. By not exercising, you are cutting your body off from the influx of those feel-good chemicals. Exercise is often prescribed as a treatment for depression. By remaining inactive for a few days, you are creating the perfect breeding ground for depression to take hold. Even if you don’t become depressed, your mood will be drastically improved if you exercise regularly.

Next time you consider skipping out on your evening walk, consider what will happen to your body. The time for a change is now, not tomorrow. According to Newton’s first law of motion, a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest. Keep yourself moving, and you’ll be moving well into your older years. Enjoy moderate exercise and enjoy the fruits of your health.

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428 comments

Aldana W
Aldana W8 days ago

Thank you for this helpful article.

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Debbi -W-
Debbi -W-12 days ago

I couldn't exercise when I managed to irritate an old injury that triggered severe muscle spams in my back. I'm hoping I'll be able to easy back into exercising in a could weeks.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE13 days ago

Thank you

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Mona M
Mona M13 days ago

Thank you, It's good to be informed about it. It's always easy to start something, but to support an activity and make it become a part of everyday life is the main effort!

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Angela K
Angela K13 days ago

noted

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Freya H
Freya H13 days ago

I know that I feel better if I exercise, even if it's just a 20 minute walk around the condo complex.

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Peggy B
Peggy B13 days ago

Good to know

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Sofia E
Sofia E13 days ago

" It boosts endorphin levels..." Yeah, if you actually enjoy exercising... which I don't. Exercising increases my stress levels because it's something I quite dislike. I'm still thin and my blood pressure has always been too low (which gets worse when exercising and then I faint). I never got this exercising mania, I'm all for eating moderately and just do whatever I need or like doing, like taking a long walk if I feel like it, if not, nothing's lost.

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Yes, all these things!

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Anne M
Anne Moran14 days ago

If you love yourself,, you will exercise at least 5 days a week.. - There are so many forms of exercise you can do,, walk, swim, bike, lift weights, jog, etc.. - Check HASfit.com - they have so many free videos you can watch,, there is something there for everyone,, and you can do them in the comforts of your own home.. xo

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