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What Happens to Your Body Composition When You Stop Exercising

We have all been in a phase where we workout dedicatedly for several months but one day, we decide to take a break. This gap in our training routine may have been due to personal life commitments, vacation, and work pressure or to spend more time with family. This gap slowly turns to a week and before you know it, it’s almost been a month since your last workout or exercise. But what implications does this break have on your body? 

Exercising increases the heart’s efficiency to pump blood throughout our body. Since blood carries oxygen, it spreads throughout our body more effectively. When you don't exercise for one to two weeks, it becomes harder for your heart to handle the excess blood flow, and it also affects your heart's ability to use oxygen properly, which is referred to as VO2 max in medical terms. 

Have you felt breathless after a short run up the stairs after a long break from your routine? This is exactly what this is. 

Longer breaks between your exercise routines will also have an effect on your physical appearance. When we stop exercising, our body composition starts to change. The muscle cells will shrink and with decreased calorie burn, our fat cells will start to expand which will make our body look softer. You may maintain your strength initially, but your power and endurance will be the first casualty caused due to your workout break.

When you stop exercising for one to two weeks, your metabolism slows down which also decreases the amount of calories you burn. These extra calories will be stored in your body as fat which will lead to weight gain. This weight can be avoided if you continue your exercise or if you reduce your calorie intake when you take a break.

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If you plan on undertaking moderate-intensity cardio workouts, it’s important to exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week to achieve the recommended 150 minutes per week goal. It’s possible to injure yourself when playing a sport or working out in a wrong posture. But even in such cases, it’s crucial that you don’t completely cut off your workout routine. Modify your workout plans and focus on parts that aren’t injured. If you have a knee ligament tear, focus on your upper body and arm workouts and vice versa “Please consult with your physician as necessary”. Once you have passed the recovery period, start your normal routines slowly to prevent further injuries. 

However, on the upside, if you start exercising after a break, it won’t take long to come back to your peak condition unless there is a significant gap in training. This is due to ’muscle memory’ which refers to special cells that remember previous training movements which helps you to regain muscles much quicker.