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What Happens to Your Body When you Stop Exercising?

Listen to “What Happens to Your Body When you Stop Exercising?”.

There are a lot of benefits to be had from exercise, but unfortunately, none of them are permanent. In fact, many of the aspects we spend time gaining will start to disappear within as little as two weeks.

Even under normal circumstances, our motivation to exercise can fade fairly quickly. Is it any wonder then that during self-isolation, when gyms are closed, and we’re stressed, exhausted and missing our routines, that all we want to do is scroll mindlessly through social media and go back to bed? 

Exercise takes your mind off of worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. A study from the University of Adelaide found that, when we stop exercising, symptoms of depression increase after just three days.

After just 14 days, you might find it more challenging to climb a flight of stairs. Skipping sweat sessions causes your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use) to drop. It can dip by as much as 10% after two weeks, and it gets gradually worse from there. After four weeks, your VO2 max can drop by about 15%, and after three months, it can fall by as much as 20%.

In 4 weeks, even if you don’t notice a change in your speed or strength, you might experience a sharp rise in your blood pressure and blood glucose levels—something that could be more serious for people with diabetes or high blood pressure. 

In approximately 6 weeks you will start to notice a physical change, either when looking in the mirror or at the numbers on your scales. Even elite athletes aren’t immune to the rebound. A 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that competitive swimmers who took a five-week break from their training experienced a 12% increase in their levels of body fat, and saw a boost in their body weight and waist circumference. 

Your endurance will decrease once you stop working out consistently. In addition to that, your heart will be more sensitive to activity, putting you at greater risk of health issues, and your lung capacity will be less efficient with the decreased flow of oxygen. 

It’s hard to find the motivation to get out of your pyjamas during lockdown. Though you might start the day with good intentions, things can quickly change. If you can’t dedicate time to a structured workout, doing little things like a short yoga flow, 10 minutes of ab work, or dancing around in your kitchen are all great ways to keep moving. 

Staying active helps keep your body and mind on track to maintain a routine. 

Try not to settle into a negative routine, which will be harder to break as time goes on. As we get used to life working from home, we should motivate ourselves to keep active and positive whenever possible.

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