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What Will Happen To Your Body When You Stop Exercising

What Will Happen To Your Body When You Stop Exercising

Engaging in regular exercise improves your overall health, mobility and stamina. It leads to much better consumption of vitamins, minerals, other nutrient substances as well as oxygen in your body. However, in spite of your best efforts, you will eventually miss a workout. And from that point it gets easier and easier to not exercise. Soon you’re not working out at all. If consistent exercise is so beneficial for your health, what happens when you skip a few sessions, take a protracted workout cessation, or when you just stop exercising?

Shortly after you begin detraining (discontinuing your normal exercise sequence), noticeable changes begin to occur in your body based upon your level of fitness. The lack of exercise influences how you look, feel and represent yourself. It hastens the aging process. Your cardiovascular health, muscular structure, brain function, emotions and concentration can be impacted. You develop an elevated risk for chronic illness.

Dr. Harry Pino, Personal Trainer and Rehabilitation Specialist, Exercise Physiologist, Consultant and experienced marathoner, is quoted heavily by many on the subject of detraining. Most of the references come from an August 2015 post by George Dvorsky, io9 blog. In this article, Dr. Pino states that “It’s shocking to see what happens to the body. We start to see lots of changes to muscle, strength, and fat levels—it really deteriorates your structural well-being[…] The fitter you are, the harder you fall.” The better conditioned you are, the faster you lose your well-earned fitness position.

Fitness levels for athletic people decline at varying rates based upon whether strength or cardiovascular losses are at risk. According to Andreas Bergdahl, Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular Physiology at Montreal’s Concordia University, “…what applies to an elite athlete after one week, might take a sedentary individual one or two months to experience.” The precise extent you will lose your fitness depends upon how long you are in the detraining phase and where you are on the fitness bar.

The good part is that no matter the cause for your falling off of the workout wagon – laziness, exhaustion, illness, conflict in schedules, injury, etc. – these conditions can most likely be reversed if you resume your exercise routines and healthy living. And as a reminder of your need to choose daily activity, here follows a detailed summary of what research finds will happen to your body when you stop exercising.

Loss of Cardio Conditioning

Cardio conditioning, or Cardio for short, is a type of exercise for heightened cardiovascular health. When you stop exercising for a few weeks you fail to strengthen your heart and lungs which casts you into a serious sedentary lifestyle. This time of ease causes your cardio to weaken and your body to store additional fat. Have you noticed challenges when you run up the steps, chase the cat or walk a short block? Cardio conditioning falls quicker than your muscle strength; however, it’s a lot easier to regain.

A four week study of nine well-trained endurance athletes on the Effects of detraining on endurance capacity and metabolic changes during prolonged exhaustive exercise concluded that four weeks of inactivity resulted in a 21% decrease of their VO2 max – their maximum capacity to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise. It, also, determined that endurance capacity fluctuates substantially during detraining without changes in the VO2 max. Muscle values increased significantly at exhaustion in the detrained state. The elevated muscle at exhaustion could contribute to fatigue in prolonged exercise.

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In a study of Time course of loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense endurance training, the VO2 max declined 7% during the first 21 days of inactivity and stabilized after 56 days at a level 16% below the initial trained value. After 84 days of detraining the experimental subjects still had a higher VO2 max than did eight sedentary control subjects who had never trained. Enzymes in the blood associated with endurance performance decreased by 50 percent. Curtly terminating your regular exercise routine harms your blood flow and your heart.

In cardio conditioning, your heart muscle is made stronger. You have a lower resting heart rate, and a healthier lung function. These benefits enable you to work harder for longer periods of time, with increased vigor and durability. Also, you may notice less stress and better temperaments.  You forfeit these advantages when you stop exercising.

Higher Blood Pressure

For the majority of persons that workout, consistent exercise assists with the lowering of their blood pressure. Therefore, it’s a no brainer that when we stop exercising it raises our blood pressure. Despite the general consensus of this claim, there exists significant inconsistency relative to the matter. This is seen in a study on The Relationship between the Blood Pressure Responses to Exercise following Training and Detraining Periods.

It examined the relationship between blood pressure responses after 6 months of training, followed by 2 weeks of detraining. Test specimen consisted of sedentary, middle-aged obese men (38) and women (37) with prehypertension, mild to moderate dyslipidemia (an abnormal amount of lipids, or fats, in the blood), and normal fasting glucose. Test results revealed “considerable variability” in the blood pressure responses; negative correlations were discovered.

Some of the individuals responded and others did not respond to exercise as a means of controlling high blood pressure. Although results indicated that exercise training lowers blood pressure, while blood pressure increases and returns to pre-training values with detraining; several of the study subjects experienced contrary results. They registered increased blood pressure with exercise training; they registered decreased blood pressure after detraining. Obviously this phenomenon requires further study.

Your Blood Glucose Skyrockets

Sedentary living causes your glucose levels to rise. This increases your risk of contracting heart disease and diabetes. When you fail to exercise, your muscles and other tissues cannot absorb sugar from your blood glucose for energy. Consequently, your blood glucose climbs sharply. This can happen even after 5 days of inactivity per an article posted by Prevention.com. All of this results in a larger abdomen from a loss of fat-burning potential and a slower metabolism. Carrying extra weight around the middle is very dangerous.

After one week of exercise, blood sugar levels should start to decrease. This reversal can occur even for Type 2 diabetes per Dr. James Thyfault, University of Missouri. He warns, “If you stay sedentary, continuously creeping glucose readings can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.” Strokes, heart conditions and diabetes may be avoided with as little as 30 minutes of consistent exercise a day.

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Muscle Degeneration

Initially as you transform from a fit person to a sedentary person, you are still considered healthy by the exercise physiologists; but, you are labeled a deconditioned individual. So, no matter the reason, when you cease to exercise, there is a negative impact. Muscle atrophy sets in, you start having problems with your joints and ligaments. Your body starts to lose muscle tone and develop muscle atrophy, especially if you’re accustomed to regular resistance training. How quickly you lose muscle mass depends on your age. The older you are, the faster you will lose muscle.

Your quads and biceps commence to shrink rather swiftly. However, even if you are not a highly trained athlete, “within 10-28 days you will notice diminished muscle strength and a loss in power, including speed and agility, mobility, moving from side-to-side, the ability to stop on a dime, and a loss of coordination says Dr. Harry Pino.

Regular exercise can only slow, and not completely halt, muscle degeneration. Within about a week, your muscles lose some of their fat-burning potential and your metabolism slows down. As a result, your muscles won’t convert to fat after you stop exercising – that’s a myth; but, they will begin to decline. Fat will begin to build up and cover them.

Strength Loss

When you stop exercising, your strength outlasts your physical endurance. Strength loss occurs in the majority of people after about two and a half to three weeks of inactivity according to Molly Galbraith, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist; co-founder of Girls Gone Strong. This does not apply to endurance and power athletes with specialized skills. The muscular strength that they have worked so hard to amass tends to decrease at a faster rate.

A study was conducted by the Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain, entitled the Physiological Effects of Tapering and Detraining in World-Class Kayakers. Their results supported “previous research showing that short-term [Training Cessation] results in larger decreases in muscle strength and power in resistance- and endurance-trained top-level athletes compared with [a Reduced Training] approach.

Moreover, muscle power appears particularly susceptible to detraining in highly conditioned athletes, being lost at a faster rate than maximal strength. These results may suggest the need of a minimal maintenance program of [Reduced Training] to avoid excessive declines in neuromuscular function and fat-free mass in cases where a prolonged break (longer than 2–3 weeks) from training is required.”

Increased Body Weight and Fat

If you take an extended leave from exercising…and if you continue to indulge in the foods you enjoy – keeping your body well stocked with high calorie delights – your fat cells will have a feast, causing your body weight to soar. Less exercise means a lower metabolism and less fat burning. As a result, you gain weight and get fat.

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In February 2014, a study was done with fifty-five professional male soccer players who stopped exercising for six weeks. This research on the Discrepancy between Exercise Performance, Body Composition, and Sex Steroid Response after a Six-Week Detraining Period in Professional Soccer Players’ concluded with definite increases in body fat percentage and increases in body weight by these athletes.

Findings from the study further showed substantial regressions in aerobic, strength, and sprint performance variations. Therefore, off-season training programs are definitely needed by highly skilled athletes for sufficient mental and physical recovery, and to sustain their most practical body composition levels.

Mood and Brain Changes

Without exercise, you have ineffective oxygen conveyance to the brain. Your body is unable to suppress chemicals that cause depression. It cannot release the chemicals that minimize depression. Occurring within a short span of time, these changes make you tired, unable to concentrate, irritable, and gloomy. They entice low self-esteem.

In the article, Depression can damage the brain, published by ScienceNordic, Professor Poul Videbech, a specialist in Psychiatry at the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Aarhus University Hospital (Denmark), stated that “depression leaves its mark on the brain as it results in a ten percent reduction of the hippocampus. In some cases, this reduction continues when the depression itself is over.” Mood changes leading to depression can damage the brain permanently leaving an individual with difficulties remembering and concentrating.

A Finnish research team performed a study using 10 sets of identical male twins between the ages of 32 and 36. Even though they had maintained the same level of physical activity and had maintained similar diets for most of their lives, there exercise habits differed over the past 3 years. The study was small and not a formal Randomized Controlled Trial; but nevertheless, the results were astounding. Two issues brought about major changes in the test results: 1) consistent exercising and 2) the lack of consistent exercising or in one case, none at all.

The twins who exercised regularly were found to have lower body fat percentages. Their endurance levels were higher, and they had more gray brain matter (for information processing), principally in areas controlling balance and motor function. However, the twins who exercised less frequently, living more sedentary lifestyles for the previous three years, carried on the average seven more pounds of body fat, had less endurance, were nearing insulin resistance – a sign of an early metabolic condition and likely type 2 diabetes. This study is a great warning of what will happen to your body when you stop exercising, and how detrimental that proves to be after only a brief time.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Many people around the world are hooked on gambling, alcohol, drugs, and sex. And yet, others are hooked on strenuous physical exercise. When these activities cease, all of the participants undergo withdrawal symptoms. Per the Counseling & Psychological Services Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, people who exercise heavily every day, and who work out to deal with their stress, may experience withdrawals when they stop. They are likely to suffer changes in their sleep patterns, performance, energy levels, and ability to concentrate, or to feel achy and sore.

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Ph.D. student Mia Beck Lichtenstein from the University of Southern Denmark conducted their first fitness addiction study. She says, “If someone who’s addicted to physical exercise is prevented from training, that person will experience withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, frustration and guilt. It’s comparable to alcoholism, where withdrawal symptoms play an incredibly large part in the addict’s social life, family life and working life.

Conclusion

So, once you stop exercising, your VO2 Max – oxygen uptake measurement, is typically first in line to be negatively influenced. You automatically trigger a decline in your coordination, endurance, power and strength; your stamina, flexibility and energy all within a few weeks. These are very important elements of physical fitness; so the loss is severe. Along with muscle atrophy this jeopardizes your cardiovascular system.

So what’s a body to do? You get off that couch and get back on a consistent exercise routine. Just thirty minutes of daily aerobic activity strengthens your heart, improves your whole body and core mobility. If you are injured, sick or bed ridden, talk with your doctor and therapist to find out what kind of exercises you can safely perform. Failure to exercise is a life threatening choice, especially when just stop abruptly.

If exercise is to profit your health and well-being, there must be a conscious decision to begin and continue a structured exercise routine. In addition, it is essential to create and maintain balance between the amounts of exercise and the amount of time allowed for recovery from exercise sessions. Quality must always precede quantity.

Featured photo credit: From LiveScience.com via 4.bp.blogspot.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

“If I drink this supplement, will I lose 40 pounds in two weeks?”

 Another consultation with a new member in the fitness center that I manage, and yet another person that fell prey to the marketing-trap of a supplement company that promised immediate results and rapid weight loss.

Rapid weight loss is enticing. It speaks to our human nature. It’s unfortunately also a false fantasy of ours.

The truth is that while you might be able to lose weight in a very short time, it’s practically impossible to keep it off. Here’s why and how you can actually shed pounds sustainably and continuously.

The Key to Patience

A mentor of mine once told me bluntly: You can have it all young man. You can be a great salesman and entrepreneur. You can run a successful business. As long as you just refuse to give up.

Is it that simple? It is.

I came into a management position at a young age not because I’m the brightest but because I outlasted my colleagues.

There are a lot of similarities between business and the results in the gym. They just produce different rewards.

If something isn’t working simply because you don’t have the patience to push through, develop this crucial piece of the puzzle before moving on.

You can learn more about just how long it takes to build muscle and lose fat here.

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The Art of Weight Loss

Weight loss is simple, but not easy.

It’s not easy because it goes against our nature. We all have to know that our ancestors dealt with much rougher situations than we did. Over millions of years our genome has evolved to store energy in order to prepare for rainy days.

Only in the recent decades have we gone from scarcity to absolute abundance. The supermarket just around my corner contains ripe fruits from all over the world. Packaged, conserved foods that can be stored in our shelf for years to come.

While our recently-evolved, self-conscious forebrain is demanding us to keep losing 10 more pounds, our genome is desperately trying to hold on to all of those bits of energy storage, making rapid weight loss nearly impossible.

Fat cells used to be our friends, and now they’re enemies. (Find out more about the reason why here.) In order to beat them and lose weight, we have to learn to go against nature and trick our genome.

How to Trick Your Genome

What if I told you that there is a way to soothe your genome and your brain at the same time? How can we manipulate both of these entities to reach our goals?

Here’s everything that you need to know about substantial and sustainable weight loss in one sentence: Calories and satiety are not linked.

We can eat a huge McDonalds meal with thousands of calories but still feel hungry after one hour. We can scoop out some ice cream late at night, and the only time we feel satiated is after we’ve gained 2 more pounds.

On the other hand, we can eat 1-2 cups of broccoli or spinach and often feel full. What matters is the caloric density and the seven crucial factors influencing satiety.

7 Parts of Satiety

Hunger and satiety are sensations. Satiety is the absence of hunger. If we feel satiated, we feel full. If we feel full, we’re more likely to stick to a diet.

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If calories are not linked to satiety, which factors are? Lucky for us, a study on satiety gave us some answers. The researchers concluded:[1]

Servings of different foods vary greatly in their satiating capacity.[2]

Optimize satiety for rapid weight loss

    And the effect of a food on one’s satiety is important, as the satiety heavily influences our future eating behavior. These are the components that played a role.

    Fiber

    Fiber fills up your stomach and speeds up digestion through your small intestine. This means that less macronutrients will get absorbed. Therefore, also less calories.

    Foods containing fiber-entrapped natural sugars produced the highest satiety scores in the whole study. If you want to feel full, start taking in more fruits and vegetables.

    Sensory Information

    Studies have shown that our sensory information can play a huge part in our satiety and rapid weight loss. We’re primed to seek a variety of foods, but if we routinize the habit of eating the same foods during our eating breaks, satiety might come earlier.[3]

    Water

    If a food contains more water, it will naturally also be less calorie dense. Not only that, but the increased water content also fills up our stomach more, boosting feelings of satiety.

    Protein and Carbohydrates

    Protein and (good) carbohydrates seem to have great satiating effects. Both of these macronutrients can, therefore, help you lose fat more easily. However, stay away from fatty products, as fat was inversely correlated with satiety. Fat also contains nearly double the calories.

    Plate Size

    The bigger the plate size, the more calories you will consume, which will slow you down on the road to rapid weight loss.[4] This may seem obvious, but many people eat far more than they should simply because they fill up a plate that’s bigger than a normal portion size.

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    Amount of Fat Cells

    Our fat cells, scientifically called adipocytes, release a hormone called leptin. Leptin levels are significantly higher in obese individuals. When we start dieting, our leptin level goes down fast—too fast. It’s an indication to our brain that we’re starving.

    We suddenly feel hunger, have reduced motivation, and burn less calories at rest. This means that if we’re overweight, our body wants to keep us like that.[5]

    Serotonin

    Do you ever wonder why chocolate is so addictive? This tasty, dark food is releasing serotonin in our bodies to the same extent as cigarettes. This explains why stress often causes weight gain.

    They crave that good-feeling neurotransmitter that gets released in our brains. This means that the less stress we have and the better we feel, the more satiety we will experience.[6]

    The Next Steps

    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln

    It’s time that we start thinking about long-term weight results when it comes to weight reduction. We have to realize that if we use the dieting approach to rapid weight loss, we’re losing both muscle and fat mass.

    This means that every time we start a diet, it gets harder, not easier.

    It’s therefore absolutely crucial that we start with the end in mind. We have to start a diet that is sustainable for months to come. There are three ways to do that:

    1. Focus on Satiety

    While a calorie deficit is important, we also have to focus on staying full. If our brain thinks we’re starving, our diet is doomed to fail.

    If we fight against our genome, we enter a war we can not win. If we fight against our genome, we enter a war we can not win. Eat high protein foods while avoiding processed foods. This will get you started.

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    2. Add Weightlifting and Cardiovascular Training to Your Schedule

    Weightlifting and cardio can improve the ratio of lost fat and muscle mass and keep us healthy. Increased muscle mass will also make it easier to keep off the weight, as it increases our caloric need.

    You can learn more about why cardio is so good for you in this article.

    3. Add Incremental Changes

    A diet shouldn’t necessarily be a diet. It should be a long-term dietary change for the better. We lay the groundwork to our dieting success by beginning with the end in mind.

    Try making one small change to your diet each week to avoid shocking your body and mind. As you work incrementally, you’ll train your body to adjust slowly and sustainably.

    Conclusion

    Rapid weight loss is a false fantasy. There’s no supplement that will help you lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks.

    It’s practically impossible to keep the weight off long-term if you do this because the dietary switch was never sustainable in the first place.

    Instead of focusing on short-term results, we should pay special attention to long-term habit change to get us to a healthy weight and more balanced levels of body fat.

    Weight loss is a trojan horse. We might expect superficial results like an improved reflection in the mirror, but if we begin with the end in mind and focus on long-term habit change, it affects multiple components of our existence and can lead to a better quality of life overall.

    More Weight Loss Tips

    Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com

    Reference

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