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5 Things That Happen When You Stop Working Out

5 Things That Happen When You Stop Working Out

While most people know there are many benefits to regular physical activity, skipping a workout is inevitable. Perhaps that one workout turns into two, then three, and before we know it, weeks have passed without a day of exercise. So, what happens to our bodies when we go weeks without working out?


Within just two to three weeks, you will see changes in your body:

  1. You lose muscle size: Your muscle fibers realize they don’t need to store any more energy because you’re not using it, resulting in muscle atrophy or shrinking of muscle fibers.
  2. You lose muscle strength: Not only do you lose some strength that you’ve gained through exercise, but you also lose speed, agility, mobility, flexibility, and coordination.
  3. You lose cardiovascular fitness and endurance: Aerobic and endurance fitness declines at a faster rate than muscle mass. What’s more, your ability to perform at high intensities reduces the fastest.
  4. Your metabolism slows down: Muscle increases your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. When muscle mass decreases, your metabolism slows down as well.
  5. Your mood, memory, and concentration are affected: When you exercise, your body releases feel good endorphins, improving your self-confidence and helping to fight anxiety and stress. With increased blood flow to the hippocampus, your memory also improves. Additionally, your mental sharpness increases with exercise.


Fortunately, the consequences of such a hiatus are reversible. Due to muscle memory, if you start exercising again, you could regain what you’ve lost. In your active recovery, it’s important to ease back into workouts to avoid injury and to still take rest days to allow your body to recover and heal.


If you do experience pain as you start exercising again, see a physical therapist to help you assess what is causing limitations and imbalances. Together, you could develop a treatment plan to help you return back to a pain-free life of physical activity!

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Diego Kim, PT, DPT
Diego loves to watch football and basketball, especially his Lakers. In his spare time, he enjoys working out and playing basketball, trying new restaurants, and discovering new cultures while traveling.
Diego Kim, PT, DPT

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