What Happens to My Body if I Stop Working Out?

Getting yourself motivated to workout can be a challenge for both a seasoned exerciser and a beginner.  It's so tempting to hit snooze on the alarm clock or skip your workout for some TV time. So, what happens to our bodies if we stop for a week, month or several months?

It doesn't take long for a no-exercise break to begin to have negative effects on our bodies.  Within ten days, changes to your brain might be observed.  A study revealed that when a group of long term exercisers (endurance runners) stopped exercising for 10 days, their MRIs showed less blood flow to their hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is linked with memory and emotion.

Within two weeks of not working out, you will see a decrease in your cardiovascular capacity. Your VO2 max (a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense exercise) will decrease by as much as 20 percent after two weeks of being on an exercise hiatus. Going up that flight of stairs is going to be harder or racing to catch the bus might not be as easy as it was a few weeks ago. In a matter of weeks, some exercisers will start seeing decreases in their strength and increases in their body fat.

All of these effects can be reversed - you just have to get back to exercising.  Sometimes a few days off can be really beneficial for your body. Those extra days will provide your body with time to rest up and repair. However, any hiatus longer than two weeks is going to have negative impacts on your physical fitness. Remember: some exercise is better than none.  Even if you resume exercising for less time or engage in a lighter workout, you are still moving!