4 Ways Your Health Suffers When You Stop Working Out

Stopping your weekly gym visits can do more than just help the pounds sneak back on, it can also significantly affect your health. Maybe it’s time to think of the gym in a different way, other than just as a means of achieving enviable aesthetics and building as much muscle as you can. Maybe it’s time to start exercising simply for your health.

If you’ve stopped going to the gym lately because you haven’t felt like it or other obligations have gotten in the way, try to consider scheduling your workouts the way you would schedule time to take a shower. It’s just something that has to get done, so start tailoring your exercise routine to fit your schedule and needs.

Enough excuses. It’s time to get back to the gym to avoid these health pitfalls, which can be completely avoided once you get back into a steady exercise routine.

1. You pack on the pounds

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According to exercise science professor Paul Arciero, D.P.E. at Skidmore College, within about a week of not working out, your muscles lose some of their fat-burning potential and your metabolism begins to slow down. Need proof? Arciero found that a five-week exercise break caused collegiate swimmers’ fat mass to increase by 12%, which was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Not only can the weight creep back on after you stop working out, but weight gain can affect your heath in so many ways that it would take pages to elaborately explain. An extensive 10-year Harvard University study was conducted to reveal sobering statistics between weight and health, combining data from more than 50,000 men (participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) and more than 120,000 women (from the Nurses’ Health Study). The volunteers provided their heath habits, medical histories, the occurrence of illness, as well as their height and their weight, which was compared to the subject’s body mass index (BMI), an estimate of an individual’s body fat. They found that among those that were overweight or obese, there was a direct relationship between BMI and disease: the higher the BMI, the more likelihood of disease.

There is an extensive laundry list of neurological, respiratory, urological, circulatory, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal health problems that are caused by carrying extra weight.

2. Your blood pressure significantly rises

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The effect is instant: Your blood pressure is higher on the days that you don’t exercise than on the days you do. According to PLoS, after two weeks of a sedentary lifestyle, your blood vessels adapt to a slower flow, which allows your pressure to go up a few notches. Linda Pescatello, Ph.D, of the University Connecticut and the study author, says that within a month, stiffening arteries and veins send your blood pressure to where it would be if you’d never left the couch at all.

3. Your blood sugar level spikes

According to a recent study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, after five days of bumming around on the couch, your post-meal blood glucose levels remain elevated, as opposed to them rising after you eat and then dropping as your muscles and other tissues absorb the sugar they need for energy. Study coauthor James Thyfault, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, says that if you remain sedentary, rising glucose readings can raise your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

4. Your brain will suffer

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A recent study in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that after two weeks of sidelining your workout, regular exercisers were more tired and grumpy (I can personally attest to this). Also, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, obese people have a 55% risk of developing depression over time, compared to people of normal weight.

On the flip side, exercise almost instantly lifts your mood and aids in fighting depression, according to research in the journal Abnormal Psychology

Have I convinced you enough? Get off your butt! What are you waiting for?

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