Ever been interested in what would happen if you completely stopped exercising? Going to the gym, playing sports, going on long walks and jogging are all great pastimes but even the best of us would usually rather be lying down on the couch most evenings.
So if you finally gave in to that urge and just quit all the exercise… what would happen?
The Initial Results
To begin with, you would find that your body started to adapt to your new sedentary lifestyle. As you live, so your body changes and this process is what’s known as SAID – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. Lift heavy things, your arms get stronger. Go for runs, your body gets more energy efficient.
Lie there all the time? Your body doesn’t need to anything and so it loses the ability to do so. You will gain weight, your muscles will entropy and you’ll become a blob that literally blends in with the furniture.
It goes further than that too. You’ll also lose flexibility in your connective tissues and start to find it hard to bend over and touch your toes, to link your hands behind your back or eventually even to cross your legs.
This might sound like an aesthetic problems and not much more but in fact that blobishness also brings some other serious problems with it.
You see your heart is also a muscle and as you fail to exercise it, it too will atrophy. This in turn results in it becoming less able to pump blood around your body.
That means your muscles won’t develop the strength or size they otherwise would and you’ll struggle severely to make it up the stairs, go for long walks or generally exert yourself. You’ll be constantly out of breath.
This has other more noticeable effects in the short term too. For instance, you’ll be more likely to experience varicose veins as the blood pools in the bottom of your legs. You’ll look constantly red in the face as your blood pressure increases (because the heart is working comparatively harder) and your general appearance will suffer too.
More importantly, you’ll have increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other conditions. Studies show that there is a clear link between the time you spend sitting and your likelihood of dying younger. The conclusion of the linked study was that sitting is comparable to a number of serious diseases in terms of the risk it posed.
There are a slew of other issues involved here too. Weight gain as a result of sitting will increase your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes which can lead to the loss of sight and limbs. Bone density will decrease risking osteoporosis and other issues.
Arthritis is also more likely for those who don’t exercise and as working out is good for neurogenesis and for the production of ‘feel good’ hormones, you also put yourself at risk of depression and dementia.
A complete lack of any exercise or activity then would likely kill you. But the scary thing is that it would take a much less extreme lack of activity to be at risk from many of these same problems. Make sure you are not on that path!