By: Lisa Payne
So, what happens when have that occasional business trip that’s morning to night packed with meetings and your only workout is walking to and from your hotel room? Or what about when your stellar workout schedule gets sidelined with a two-week flu? Or worse yet, what happens when you realize you have more check-ins at the local pizza place than the gym? Bottom line: what happens when you stop exercising?
Our bodies were made to move! People who live sedentary lifestyles are at higher risk for coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other life-threatening health conditions. But since there’s a huge difference between your body on and off exercise, we’d like you to know exactly where you stand.
Motivation to exercise can often be far and few between. But if you’ve ever fallen off the regular exercise bandwagon, you know it can be even harder to hop back on. But if you haven’t worked out on a regular basis in a while, your body might already be trying to tell you something. Colds, lethargy, mental fogginess, and extra weight gain can begin to happen as early as one week after you stop exercising cold turkey. Even professional athletes who take 2-3 weeks off of training will start to lose muscle mass.
When you lift weights, your muscles go into hypotrophy and gain strength. When you do not exercise or lift weights, your muscles atrophy and your body as a whole gets weaker. Beyond that, people who live sedentary lives have a higher risk of both physical and mental health issues. In addition to a compromised immune system, life-threatening health issues, and even a lowered life expectancy, mental cognition is lowered as well. Exercise boosts your mood and increases your daytime alertness.
If you work out, but maybe something closer to 2-4 times a week, your body is still reaping the benefits of regular exercise. As long as you stay as consistent as possible, you won’t back track like you might think should you need to take time off. But it’s important to note that when you do workout, focus on intensity and strength training. Maximize your time at the gym. And when you can’t get to the gym, fit in walks, short online yoga classes, or even just take the stairs when you can.
If there’s a week or two when you haven’t seen the inside of your gym, muscle will help carry you through. Lean muscle mass helps keep your metabolism running smoothly. It’s also like having an extra generator running. Muscle helps keep you warm, gives you energy, and will keep you active longer in life!
For the person who works out 5, to maybe even 7 days a week, here’s some news for you. Working out hard 7 days a week can actually subtract gains, rather than add! Without adequate rest days and workout periodization, your body won’t have time to recover to repair muscles. Your injury and burnout rate will increase, and you’ll soon find yourself out for the count. More isn’t always better!
Anyone who works out consistently around five days a week, nourishes their bodies on days they don’t work out. These days are spent eating right, sleeping well, and allowing time for your body to get stronger for the next workout. This type of persona who is such a heavy-hitter at the gym, must also learn how to have a healthy view of training where it’s not borderline excessive. Balancing out workouts throughout the week with things like yoga and Pilates will keep you in check!
All in all, if you stop exercising, your body will feel it. When you start, you’ll feel that too. But it’s all about finding a healthy balance between exercise, rest, and not being hard on yourself when things like the flu come up. Just know, that after long periods of time where you’ve stopped exercising you should ease back into it. Set short-term goals and adjust to how amazing you’ll start to look and feel! But trust us, your body will start feeling better the second you start!