What happens when you stop working out?

What happens when you stop working out?

by Pamela Ng 23 Feb 2020

At some point, exercising can be frustrating and there is an urge to give up, especially when progress grinds to a halt. After all, what beats relaxing on the bed playing your favourite games and watching videos? Before you throw in the towel however, here are some physiological impacts you need to know before you quit working out:


1. Poorer memory

Exercising improves blood flow throughout the body, even in the brain. A stop to exercising will reduce the blood supplied to the brain, and specifically the hippocampus which is involved in memory and emotions, thereby leading to forgetfulness and less emotional control.


2. Endurance and VO2 will drop

VO2 is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use. Inactiveness can reduce VO2 such that your muscles cannot utilise oxygen efficiently for physical activities. This can cause breathlessness even after a short time of any future exercise, a sign that your physical endurance has dropped.


3. Higher risk of diabetes

Exercise optimises insulin sensitivity in the muscles, helping them to store glucose by converting to glycogen. A stop to exercising can decrease the muscles ability to stock glucose as glycogen, resulting in high amounts of glucose being stored as fatty tissue and a higher risk of diabetes.


4. Increase blood pressure

After a while of not exercising, arteries can stiffen and become narrow. This results in a reduced ability for blood to flow, such that blood pressure increases easily to stimulate a stroke or lead to the development of heart disease.


5. Reduced muscle tone and more fat

A period of inactivity will cause muscles to become smaller and look “softer”. Studies have shown that people who stopped any physical activity displayed a higher tendency to gain body fat and increases in weight and circumference of the body. That being said, muscle size and strength are not directly dependent on one another. So while your physical appearance may change within a short time, it would take a longer time before you experience the effects of deteriorating strength.


Sometimes, there are trying moments when we feel that training is pulling us down instead of lifting us up, and we feel the urge to stop. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way, but it is indeed a pity to see all your effort go down the drain should you cease exercising. Instead of stopping entirely, take a short break to recharge yourself, or perhaps start on a new training routine that is more fun and excites you so that you can maintain your physique and your commitment to fitness!