How does your body react when you quit working out?

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A small break from training shouldn’t hurt you too much. It can be a good time for recovery. However, if for some reason – illness or other random events – you give up physical activity, your body will give you unmistakable signs that should not be ignored.

Decrease in resistance to exercise

As early as four weeks after the last workout you did, you’ll notice that you’re less fit. Endurance is calculated in units of VO2 Max, which represents the maximum amount of oxygen your body uses during a workout. After two weeks the decrease in VO2 is about 10%. After four weeks it is already 15%.

The amount of oxygen that is delivered to the body affects more than just fitness. Oxygen is necessary for all cells in the human body, so less oxygen also means slower recovery. If there is not enough oxygen, your muscles will produce lactic acid, which you will feel as pain. If you return to intense workouts after a long time, the lactic acid will build up much faster, and at a lower exercise intensity.

Less strength and muscle mass

When you exercise (train regularly), you will notice that your muscles become more and more resistant to physical exertion. Each of us has a so-called muscle memory. Thanks to this, returning to exercise after a short break doesn’t make much difference. You can lift similar weights as if you were training regularly. After a long break, muscle cells – myocytes, reduce the number of cell nuclei, which results in less effective production of muscle proteins. As a result, just a few weeks after your last workout you may notice a smaller girth and strength of your muscles. The body will first use protein to synthesize, for example, hormones and enzymes, rather than build muscle tissue.

Increase body weight

We burn calories during exercise, which is why many people gain weight after giving up exercise. This is because the lifestyle changes, but not the number of calories consumed per day. The first excess kilograms may appear after about two weeks since the last exercise. Importantly, the more muscle you have, the faster you burn fat. So if you want to have a fit body, don’t give up regular exercise!

Sluggishness and lack of motivation

When you got up every day to work out, you must have felt a surge of energy and motivation. You had a goal and you meticulously pursued it. When you slack off a bit, you’re bound to feel less desire to perform. You may also feel tired. Contrary to what you may think, it is not the movement that makes you feel tired, but the lack of it! When you exercise, your body produces, among other things, the happy hormone, but also adrenaline. It stimulates you to action, thanks to which you are in a much better mood. Lack of exercise is one of the causes of mood decline and even depression.

We start to eat worse

When you work out, you definitely notice the first effects of your efforts. You are much less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks in fear that all the hours spent at the gym will go to waste. The longer you avoid moving, the more often you think about pizza or kebab. This reduced motivation causes you to eat less and less, until you finally stop paying attention to what’s on your plate.

Increased sluggishness

When you work out, your metabolism speeds up so you burn fat faster. We feel much lighter. Thanks to physical effort, water does not accumulate in the body, which translates into a better mood. After a long break from training, we are more likely to feel heaviness, and also problems with lymphatic stasis and excess water in the body.

Susceptibility to stress

Training allows us to “let off steam”. When we focus on exercise, we don’t think about problems, but we also get rid of bad energy. In the absence of regular training, you feel worse and are more likely to become stressed.

photo: cottonbro/

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