Have you ever looked at people exercising and wonder why they continue to do so when they are obviously in really good shape? Sure, there is a need to exercise in order to maintain the body you have built, but there are also the changes to your body that happen the moment you decide that you no longer need to hit the gym. What may come as a surprise is that many of these changes start to happen very quickly, and the effects that they deliver can be felt in no time at all. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should not stop exercising.
When you commit to exercising regularly, one of the first things that you notice is that it becomes easier to breathe after a pretty short period of time. This is because of the flow of oxygen in your body and improvements to your cardiovascular health. This is one of the first things affected when you hit the couch instead of the gym, with a decrease in cardiovascular performance happening within a week. The longer you go without working out, the more it will decrease.
You also get pretty strong when you exercise regularly, as you start to build and develop muscles all over your body. When you stop challenging those muscles, you start to lose muscle protein, which eventually results in you losing some of the strength that you have built up. The muscle protein loss can begin as quickly as 72 hours after you quite exercising, but you won’t really start noticing the reduction in strength for about 2 weeks. Again, the longer you go without exercise, the more your strength will diminish.
There are sometimes legitimate reasons for not being able to exercise, with age, injury, and illness high on the list of viable excuses. It becomes much harder to recover from exercise as you age, generally because of the decrease in hormone levels in the body. There are natural decreases in strength and fitness levels that come with aging, but those can be somewhat slowed down by continuing to exercise. Interestingly enough, you lose strength and cardiovascular health faster when you are sick or injured than you would when you just simply quit exercising. It can take as long as a year to get back to pre-injury levels if you are forced to take a few weeks off because of an injury.
It is believed that you need about 3 weeks off exercise to recover for every week that you take off. That is a lot of work to put in for a short break, so it’s always a good idea to maintain some level of exercise as opposed to just stopping altogether for an extended period of time. If you need to take a break from the gym, consider taking a half hour per day to go for a brisk walk or a jog. That small time commitment can save you a ton of work in the future.