Everyone should have a rest day every now and then. But when that rest day turns into a rest week or rest month, you might start to notice some changes with your body. If you’ve taken a workout hiatus recently, or are just curious of how your body might change once you decide to take a break from your workout routine, keep reading to learn about six things that will happen to your body when you stop exercising.
Blood pressure rises. Exercise naturally lowers your blood pressure and reduces your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). If you abruptly quit your regular fitness routine, your blood pressure might start to rise over time. If left unmanaged, high blood pressure can lead to some negative health consequences and increase your risk of heart disease.
Brain changes. Believe it or not, regular exercise improves brain function in a variety of ways. It boosts memory, learning capabilities, and helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Without regular exercise, your brain might start to change. One study found that when participants (a group of long-term endurance runners) took a 10-day exercise cessation, MRIs showed a reduction in blood flow to the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions and memory).
Blood sugar spike. Regular exercise is an excellent way to keep your blood sugar levels in check. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), physical activity can lower your blood glucose up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin. Once you ditch your morning workouts, your blood sugar levels are likely to spike back up.
Mood changes. Exercise makes you happy. It produces feel-good chemicals that help banish stress, keep you energized, and help you maintain a positive mood. Without regular exercise, you might start to notice some changes in your mood. Many people report feeling more stressed and agitated after taking a hiatus from their fitness routine.
Endurance plummets. The more you exercise, the more endurance you build. Taking an extended break from your fitness routine will cause your endurance to take a hit. You might start to notice that you get winded more easily than before. Normal trips up the stairs or a morning jog might become a bit more taxing on your body.
Weight changes. It’s no surprise that you might start noticing some changes in the way your clothes fit or notice a different number on the scale after you take a detour from the gym. Exercising helps boost your metabolism and burn excess calories that can turn into body fat. Without regular physical activity, your risk of obesity increases significantly.
While the negative effects of abandoning your fitness regimen might sound scary, the good news is that many of these things are completely reversible as soon as you get back into your fitness routine. If you’ve taken a break from the gym and have noticed some of these changes, don’t fret! Here are a few tips to help you get back into your fitness routine ASAP:
- Start slow. If it’s been a while since you got a good workout in, don’t come back into things full swing. This will only increase your risk of sore muscles and injury – and you definitely won’t want to workout the following day!
- Pack a gym bag. If you’re having trouble simply getting to the gym, pack a gym bag before you go to work and keep it at your desk as motivation. If you have everything you need already with you, there’s no excuse for skipping an afternoon workout!
- Write it down. Schedule in your workouts a week ahead of time. Write them in your daily calendar and set reminders on your phone. This will help keep yourself accountable. Be sure to also track your exercise for the day in a journal. Write down how long you worked out and what goals you have for next week.
- Find a buddy. Workout buddies help keep you motivated. Not to mention, they make exercise way more enjoyable. Find a partner who shares a similar schedule and similar goals as you.
Living an active lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Regular exercise helps lower your risk of chronic illness and increases your quality (and quantity!) of life. While it’s normal to get off track of an active lifestyle every now and then, it’s important to understand how your body and brain will be affected. So, if you’ve recently taken a break from the gym, take a deep breath and get back out there! Your body and mind will start feeling better ASAP.
What helps you get back on track after you’ve taken a break from your fitness routine? Feel free to share in the comment section below!
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