It takes time to build up your fitness level as part of a regular training program, but unfortunately it doesn't take long at all to lose those health benefits after falling off the rails or “detraining." Here's what to expect when you swap neck presses for Netflix or have stopped working out for a while.
We can all think of plenty of excuses why we stopped working out.
- Too expensive
- Too time consuming
- Too busy
- Too hard
- Too tired
- Too hot in summer
- Too cold in winter
However, if you've stopped working out, steel yourself to hear some harsh truths about how your health will suffer within a very short span of time.
Here's what to expect if you've stopped working out:
1. Shrinking Muscles
In the space of just two weeks, those toned quads and biceps will quickly turn to flab as your muscle mass declines through lack of use.
2. Decrease in Brain Power
Grumpiness is often a symptom suffered by those who have stopped working out as the negative change in lifestyle takes its toll on your brain and behavior. Studies on rats showed that when they stopped moving for a week, the rats developed fewer brain cells and performed poorly on maze tests compared to their counterparts who steadily exercised on a wheel.
3. Increase in Body Fat
As your metabolism slows after you stopped working out, those unburned calories will gradually build up as stored fat. Exercise professor Paul Arciero D.P.E. found that a break of just five weeks for college swimming students led to a 12% increase in body fat.
4. Blood Pressure Rises
Just a short time after you have stopped working out, your blood pressure will rise as your blood vessels adapt to taking things easy. Within a month, expect stiffened arteries and veins, according to Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., University of Connecticut.
5. Blood Sugar Spikes
When you eat, your blood glucose rises but quickly readjusts as your body uses the glucose for energy. Unfortunately, just five days after you have stopped working out, your blood sugar levels will remain elevated, according to a study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal. In the long-term, this leads to an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
6. Shortness of Breath
After two weeks of no exercise, your muscles will be using around 20% less oxygen as you lose the mitochondria that convert oxygen into energy. Any additional exertion, such as climbing a flight of stairs, will quickly lead to a shortness of breath.
If you don’t like the picture of the new unfit "you" after you've stopped working out, the good news is that these health consequences can be reversed. Resolve to get back in training, whatever it takes, for your health's sake.