If you stop exercising today, these 7 things will happen
We’ve all heard the drill – 150 minutes of weekly exercise is recommended – you know it’s good for you providing numerous health benefits. But what would happen to your body if you simply stopped or didn’t exercise? How bad could things get?
To put it bluntly, things have the potential to get bad. You certainly won’t wake up the next morning completely out of shape, but give it some time and your body will respond accordingly and not in a good way.
Here are 7 things that can happen when exercise is ignored gradually increasing the probability of turning your life into a whole host of health issues you really don’t want to have to deal with.
1. Your heart will become weak
One of the most important exercises we should do regularly is aerobic or cardiovascular endurance. Like any muscle in the body, our heart requires a good workout of us huffing and puffing to get it elevated on most days of the week. Raising our heart rate helps protect it from atherosclerosis, a heart attack, hypertension or a stroke.
Each day incorporate simple exercises into your schedule such as walking, bicycling, or jogging to get your heart beating faster helping to reduce cholesterol levels and to make it strong. Any kind of aerobic activity enhances the capacity of the heart including the lungs and blood to deliver oxygen to, and remove wastes from the body’s cells.
2. You’ll lose flexibility
Sure, you may think “why is flexibility so important – I never could do the splits or a backbend.” That may be true for many people, but flexibility is more than being able to perform those movements.
One aspect of exercise is stretching. When we repeatedly stretch our muscles, it helps to build them up by toning and shaping muscles preventing them from getting tight and stiff. If you want to be able to perform everyday activities as you grow older, you need to be flexible. Just to get out of bed, lift children or sweep the floor requires flexibility. With age, flexibility deteriorates often due to a sedentary lifestyle. Staying active and stretching regularly helps prevent the loss of mobility and range of motion, and reduces the likelihood of chronic back pain.
3. You’ll gain weight
It is well known that when we fail to exercise, weight gain most likely will follow. By choosing a regular regimen of exercise, this helps your body to burn off excess calories, speeds up metabolism and improves blood circulation aiding in digestion.
If you choose not to exercise, then you are also choosing the very real possibility of developing serious health conditions related to excess weight gain such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gout, gallbladder issues, hypertension, joint pain, depression, and some forms of cancer.
4. Your bones will become weaker
If we want our bones to be as strong as possible, regular exercise is required. If you don’t exercise, osteoporosis or osteoarthritis can develop over the years. To slow down the loss of bone density that can occur past the age of 30, exercise is a critical component to make this happen. If our bones are rarely stressed by movements such as brisk walking, jumping rope, jogging, or dancing, they will become weak, brittle and more susceptible to fractures over time.
Daily weight bearing exercise and an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D are good ways of protecting your bones.
5. Your muscles will atrophy and you are at risk of sarcopenia
Most people may never have heard of sarcopenia yet all of us are at risk of developing it as we age. Sarcopenia is age-related muscle loss that can begin in our 40s. Like the saying goes, “either use it or lose it” is very true of retaining or building our muscle mass.
If we lead a sedentary lifestyle, our muscles respond by becoming weak and will atrophy or become smaller. The muscle mass we may have enjoyed in our youth will dwindle and is replaced by fat tissue. The less muscle mass we have, the fewer calories we burn and the more frail we become. Suddenly, being able to carry in a heavy bag of groceries is a struggle or we tire very easily from having weak muscles. This will affect your lifestyle and can lead to a loss of independence with age.
Regular weight resistance or weight training exercise is required for maintaining and building muscle mass in order to avoid the effects of sarcopenia.
6. You’ll experience sexual issues
One of the benefits of consistent exercise is building up stamina and endurance. Another added benefit is the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones that put us in a better mood, including enhancing our libido.
By having good endurance and a healthy libido, our sex life will thrive. We’ll come to bed more likely to have a strong interest in having a sexual encounter. Regular exercise also gives us a better body which improves body self-confidence when our clothes are off. For men, it has been shown that exercise helps to improve their sexual performance by reducing the chance of erectile dysfunction.
7. You’ll have increased feelings of stress and depression
Do any of us like feeling stressed-out or suffering through depression? Of course we don’t. One of the best ways to avoid stressful and depressed feelings is to exercise. Working up a sweat will release endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormones that reduce the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Many people who regularly workout state that afterwards, they have a feeling equivalent of a “runner’s high.” What this means is that they feel peaceful, calm, clear-headed, and are in a better frame of mind. This is primarily due thanks to the abundance of circulating endorphins that continue to be released after exercising. Exercise will also help keep energy levels high, putting you in a good mood and ready to tackle the day.
Not to say you will never feel stress or mild depression at times, but exercise is a potent antidote to prevent those feelings from overtaking our lives and to know how to deal with them more appropriately.