Increased Fat, Blood Pressure Spike: The Effects of Stopping Exercise

Sports Medicine Research Gap London Marathon
Kenya's Florence Kiplagat, center, in action during the women's race at the 2016 London Marathon in April. Stopping exercise can have fairly immediate health effects. Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuter

This article originally appeared on Medical Daily.

Let’s be honest; it’s pretty easy to fall off the workout wagon, but quitting the active lifestyle can be detrimental to your body. Research has shown that an abrupt switch from heavy exercise to a sedentary lifestyle can result in a host of negative changes, from an increase in your heart attack risk to weight gain. 

So, once you’ve stuck to a solid workout plan, what specific changes occur when you stop exercising?

Back in 2014, researchers discovered that stopping your regular workouts can cause increases in blood pressure. A study published in PLOS One revealed that these changes occur after just two weeks of stopping exercise, however, these findings don’t mean that discontinuing workouts guarantees you high blood pressure.

Another study from 2010 revealed that highly trained athletes who stopped exercising for five weeks showed significant decreases in strength. Significant time off, especially for those who regularly practice resistance training, can lead to loss of strength and muscle mass.

Decreased strength can also come with increased levels of body fat.

In 2012, research revealed that competitive swimmers who took a break from their training experienced a 12 percent increase in their levels of body fat after only five weeks. During this time, their body weight and waist circumference also increased.

Just this year, another study also supported these notions about the body’s reaction to less exercise. Researchers found that elite Taekwondo athletes who took an eight-week hiatus experienced both an increase in their levels of body fat and a decrease in muscle mass, too.

Physical inactivity is considered one of the lifestyle choices that increase a person’s risk for poor cardiovascular health, Medical Daily previously reported, and carries a particular risk for heart disease for women over the age of 30, even more than smoking and obesity.