Our body craves movement, whether we like it or not. As a consequence, the lack of exercise takes its toll on us. This fact is very well illustrated by the effects of interrupting exercise after one would regularly indulge in training: the body feels the change and reacts accordingly. Cardiovascular physiologist Andreas Bergdahl explains in detail what happens to the body when a person stops exercising.
Regular exercise in the form of endurance training such as running affects the heart’s health positively: the organ pumps blood more efficiently, thereby enhancing the ability of blood vessels to transport the life liquid, and increasing the number of capillaries. Furthermore, mitochondria increase in size and number to release energy. Muscles also benefit from the exercise in terms of strength, coordination and flexibility. Putting a halt to the physical exercise leads to a process called deconditioning/ detraining, whereby the positive effects that were once felt begin to decline.
Furthermore, the fitter the person was, the faster he loses the benefits. Eventually, muscle strength, stamina, and coordination are lost. Also, blood sugar levels and blood pressure might increase.
Gaining weight then follows as muscle cells change.
“What really happens is that the muscle cells – which are completely different than fat cells – become smaller, because now you don’t have a demand of power and strength – they’re not growing,” affirms Bergdahl in a statement.
On the other hand, fat cells grow in size, thereby accounting for the change in the person’s appearance.
This is why experts advise athletes who have stopped training to still engage in some form of activity so that they do not lose the effects they gained over time.