What happens when we stop exercising ?

My workout

Published on 3 December 2018
by Élodie Lévesque-Filiatreault

There comes a moment in the lives of most athletes when staying active becomes difficult and the urge to quit begins to feel overwhelming. Whether it’s due to a lack of motivation, a busy schedule, or slow results, just know that it is completely normal. Nonetheless, it is important to find alternatives to maintain an active lifestyle.

1.   Cognitive health, sleep, and emotions

All it takes is one to two weeks of no exercise to start feeling the negative impacts. Exercise helps keep enough blood flowing through the brain, which promotes certain cognitive functions, such as memory. Of course, the negative effects may vary from person to person. They include difficulty staying focused, difficulty sleeping, and even unusual mood swings.

2.   Cardiovascular capacity

By the second week of inactivity, you might begin to experience a decrease in your cardiovascular capacity and endurance. As a result, daily activities may make you winded more often (e.g. going up stairs, carrying heavy objects, playing with children, etc.). If you go even longer without exercise, your cardiovascular capacity could drop by 15–20% over three months.

3.   Muscle capacity and body composition

After three weeks of no exercise, you will generally see a significant decrease in muscle strength and athletic performance. You will also notice progressive muscle atrophy, decreased bone density, and loss of flexibility. Furthermore, if you do not adjust your diet, you may start gradually gaining weight due to the storage of excess energy in the form of fat.


 Interesting facts

  • When people who have been active for several years stop working out, they retain more know-how than those who started training recently. Long-time exercisers will also generally get back into shape more quickly once training resumes.
  • Should you reduce your training frequency, you can limit the loss of your achievements by making sure to maintain at least 30–50% of your total workout volume; however, be careful not to reduce the intensity of your workouts.
  • During the winter, there are several ways to stay active while spending time with your family! You can go skiing, skating, snowshoeing, or just play in the snow!

Happy training and happy holidays to all!

Élodie Lévesque-Filiatreault
B. SC. Communication and Polics and Digital Content Specialist at Énergie Cardio
First sales and customer service advisor in a gym and then assistant director and now specialist in digital content for Énergie Cardio, she will motivate you to achieve your goals! In her articles, she will share with you inspiring stories from members of the Énergie Cardio network, as well as tips and tricks for active and healthy living that are used by Énergie Cardio employees!