We all need a break every once in a while, from school, work and even good things like exercise. But before you consider unplugging that treadmill and spending your afternoons on the patio instead, consider that taking a break from your workout routine can have a lot of negative effects many people are not aware of.
It’s about more than your weight; it’s about your overall health and longevity.
Let’s take a look at six things that happen when you give up exercising.
You’ll Find It Harder To Breathe
After two weeks of exercise vacation, your VO2 max, or the measure of how much oxygen your muscles can use, decreases by 20% and any respiratory fitness gains you made will disappear.
This happens due to the loss of mitochondria that occurs when you stop working out.
Mitochondria are mini-organs in your cells that convert oxygen to energy. Start exercising again and they’ll come back.
You’ll Lose Muscle Mass
While this may not be as drastic as your loss of endurance, it’s still probably not what you want.
According to Men’s Health, studies have “found significant declines in muscle mass after 2 weeks of complete rest. What’s more, some muscle fibers actually convert from fastest-twitch type IIa to more explosive but faster-fatiguing type IIx. This can hamper your ability to sustain high-intensity efforts.”
It takes longer to regain muscle mass than it does to lose it, so you’ve gotta keep using it!
You’ll Gain Weight
In about a week of not exercising, your muscles will lose some fat burning potential and your metabolism will slow down.
And when you snap out of your hiatus cause you want your mean, lean body back, you’ll have to work out for twice as long as you were inactive.
Your Blood Pressure Will Skyrocket
This will happen pretty quickly.
Compare your blood pressure on a day that you exercised to your blood pressure on a day that you didn’t.
It’s almost always higher on the day you sat around and watched TV.
It takes two weeks for blood vessels to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle and for your blood pressure to normalize.
Men’s Health reports, “Within a month, stiffening arteries and veins send your BP back to where it would be if you’d never even left the couch, says study author Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut.”
When you start exercising again, your blood pressure will drop, blood vessel will function more effectively within a week and after a month or two, your blood pressure will be very low because your vasculature will be more flexible.
Your Blood Sugar Goes Up, Too
When you exercise, most of the glucose from food gets absorbed by your muscles and tissues. This causes blood glucose levels to decrease. However, after only 5 days of inactivity, this process grinds to a halt.
According to a recent study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, “if you stay sedentary, continuously creeping glucose readings can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
Only a week of regular exercise will dramatically drop blood sugar levels after a meal.
Your Brain Suffers
We’re learning, more and more, that our physical and mental health are incredibly connected. So, it should come as no surprise that missing two weeks of exercise has an effect on your brain.
According to Men’s Health, “though human evidence is limited, rat studies presented at a recent Society for Neuroscience conference suggest animals that stop moving for just a week grow fewer new brain cells and do worse on maze tests than those who stick to a steady wheel-running routine.”
Exercise even reduces the effects of depression and even moderate movement promotes the growth of the hippocampus the area of the brain for memory.
It’s summer! Why not take the opportunity to get outside and work up a sweat?
If there’s anything you should be taking a break from this time of year, it’s television. To get you started, have a look at these 6 simple exercises that’ll transform your body in 3 weeks.