Getting into the habit of working out on a daily basis can be easy when you find something that you like, whether that’s running, lifting weights, or just walking on the treadmill before work. Making it even better is the rush of energy that’s often experienced after working out, which can help make the habit easier to keep. However, even with as easy as it is to fall into a workout regimen, it can be even easier to fall out of one. Whether this happens because of a busy schedule, change in work, or just an interruption in life, you may find yourself struggling to pick up and go back to where you last started.
Need reasons to get back into the routine you were once passionate about? By learning about what happens to your body when you stop working out, you may be motivated to do just that. Some of the surprising changes that are most worth learning about are conveniently listed below.
1. You May Experience Withdrawal
While most people associate withdrawal symptoms with quitting an addiction such as smoking or drinking, it’s not only attached to those types of health issues. Withdrawal can also be experienced by those who completely stop working out, especially if they were heavy duty exercisers. Although this may sound odd, a study done by the Counselling & Psychological Services Department at the University of California Santa Cruz proved otherwise. They found that individuals who exercised heavily and stopped completely ended up experiencing withdrawals symptoms such as difficulty to sleep, low energy levels, trouble concentrating, and aches and sores.
2. Your Body Will Store Additional Fat
When you stop working out and develop a sedentary lifestyle, your body will not be as conditioned as it was before. Unfortunately this can lead to a weakened body that is much more likely to store fat that would otherwise be burned through working out. If you are trying to lose weight with diet alone, this could make it incredibly difficult.
3. Loss of Muscle
Muscle is something that requires maintenance in order to keep, which means stopping a workout regimen can result in the loss of strength. This observation was found when a study was done by the Faculty of Sport Sciences at the University of Murcia in Spain. When looking at power and endurance athletes, they found that muscle was lost at a faster rate when they stopped working out completely.
4. Slow Metabolism
Working out helps to ramp up metabolism, which is responsible for the amount of calories you burn in a day. Unfortunately this means that if you stop working out completely, your metabolism is likely to slow down quite a bit. If you don’t adjust your calories accordingly, this could lead to rapid weight gain. This has been seen in countless studies that looked at athletes who stopped working out for a certain length of time. In these studies the majority of athletes had a higher body fat percentage by the time the study ended, largely as a result of decreased activity.
5. Your Mood Will Change
Do you notice that you feel good after you workout? This is largely due to the endorphins that are released when you exercise, which are a type of “feel good” hormones released by the brain. While these are less likely to release when you are not exercising, that’s not the only reason why your mood might change. Without exercise your body also won’t get as much oxygen, which can mean it’s not able to suppress chemicals that can make you feel sad or depressed. Unfortunately this can lead to feeling irritable while being gloomy and tired.
6. Your Blood Pressure Will Rise
As soon as you stop working out, your blood pressure is likely to soar. This is especially true when compared to days that you would otherwise work out. This is because as you become sedentary, your blood vessels get used to a slower flow running through them. Just a month later the arteries and veins will begin to stiffen and go back to where they were before you ever exercised in the first place.
7. You’ll Get Tired Quickly
While you might have been able to run miles without losing your breath, once you stop working out, you might get winded just walking up your stairs. This is the result of the amount of oxygen your muscles using decreasing, which is around 20% just 2 weeks after quitting working out.
8. Blood Sugar Increases
Although it’s common for blood sugar to rise after you eat a meal, it normally drops soon after you’re finished. However, as you become more sedentary, your blood sugar levels will continue staying elevated for much longer. Unfortunately this increases your risk of heart disease as well as diabetes, making it even worse for your health.
9. You Won’t Feel Like Yourself
If you’ve ever noticed you don’t feel like your normal self when you don’t workout, that’s because the connection between your muscles and your brain have likely weakened or diminished. This can leave you feeling “off” and is more formally known as neuromuscular adaptations. The good news is that once you get back to exercising regularly, this feeling should go away completely.
10. Reduced Sensitivity to Insulin
As you continue to stay away from the gym your sensitivity to insulin will likely decrease. While this in itself can mean difficulty losing weight it can also lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even diabetes. If you have an unhealthy diet in addition to not working out, this can create even more health problems, which is why it’s important to watch what you eat while you’re staying out of the gym.
11. Your Joints May Ache
As your muscles begin to degenerate because you haven’t been working to maintain them, your joints and ligaments are likely to ache. This can make everyday tasks a lot more difficult, such as walking to the grocery stores or just doing everyday cleaning around the house. This is even easier to see in individuals who are older, as their muscle degenerates more quickly which makes it much easier to notice joint problems.