While you don’t necessarily need to work out every single day, going too long without some physical activity hurts more than you might think. This is how different parts of your body react when you stop exercising, and why it matters.
YOUR BLOOD VESSELS CHANGE
And not for the better. When you go from regular exercise to none, your blood vessels adapt according to that change in activity. They have to work harder than usual to pump blood from your heart to different parts of your body and back again. This makes your blood pressure go up – and up and up – which is bad news for your heart and kidneys in the long-term.
YOUR BRAIN CAN’T HANDLE IT
Science hasn’t really studied this effect in humans yet, but rats who stop exercising tend to perform worse on tests and grow fewer new brain cells. These results may not be the exact same for you, but we do know depriving yourself of exercise can make you feel tired and cranky. As seems to be the case more often than not, this is probably due to hormones. Exercise boosts the production of hormones that make you feel happy and energetic and lowers the production of the ones that make you feel stressed. So it only makes sense that sitting on the couch can make you feel a bit edgy.
YOUR CELLS STORE MORE FAT
You burn carbs and protein before you burn fat. When you’re not exercising – burning off fat – it has nowhere to go but into storage. This is what’s going on when your metabolism “slows down.” You’re not using as much energy, so more of it gets put away for later use. If you don’t gain a ton of weight, you will at least gain fat, pretty much reversing any progress you may have made at the gym previously.
A day or two without exercise, even a week, isn’t going to completely ruin your health. You should still try to avoid skipping too many workouts in a row, though. The good news is, much of the damage you do when you stop exercising, you can reverse it by getting back into a consistent training routine. Never falling out of line in the first place, though, saves you a lot of aches and troubles later down the road. Stick with it. You won’t be sorry.