What happens when your body stops exercising

August 18, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,


When it comes to exercise, consistency is key.

Even for the fittest among us, a few weeks away from training can result in rapid declines in strength, aerobic capacity and the biomarkers, such as blood pressure, that indicate a healthy body.

“Detraining will occur relatively quickly, with major declines occurring after two or three weeks,” said Mark Peterson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at U-M. The graphic above outlines some of the changes and when they occur.

But maintaining a regular exercise routine has many benefits.

“Strength preservation and daily physical activity in adolescence, midlife and older adulthood are powerful protective factors for maintaining cardiovascular health and functional mobility, reducing injury and extending life expectancy,” Peterson said.

Below, Peterson offers tips for sticking with an effective exercise routine.

Keep these tips in mind as you work toward an effective, long-lasting exercise routine!

  • Aim for intermittent physical activity: Break up exercise into chunks throughout your day. It’s effective and fits around busy schedules.
  • Go gym-free: Resistance exercise can take place without access to a gym. Simply use your body weight for moves such as body weight squats, push-ups, planks, pull-ups (or inverted rows), lunges, stair climbing or even playing on a jungle gym.
  • Combine forces: Aerobic and resistance exercise together is a far superior combination than doing either type of exercise alone. The combination will improve body composition and metabolic health, increase muscle strength and endurance and enhance cardiorespiratory health and fitness.
  • Try HIIT: Occasional high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be used to improve health and fitness in less time. Cycling, running or stair-climbing HIIT for equivalent work and rest ratios can produce immediate and large effects.
  • Get outdoors: Regular participation in exercise and recreation outdoors can reduce stress and depressive symptoms, improve mood and enhance cognitive health.