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What happens to your body when you stop exercising?

Nowadays, the importance of exercise and regular practice of physical exercise is undeniable.

Some benefits that exercise practice provides us with are almost common sense. These benefits can be physical and cognitive.

More and more, exercise is part of the daily life of the population.

However, the numbers are still not satisfactory.

In an ideal world, each person would make at least 45 minutes of daily exercise.

In addition, physical exercise should be recognized as a preventive weapon.

So, in my opinion, physical exercise professionals are the first intervention front against most diseases.

If medicine works to heal, exercise practitioners work in prevention!

Defending this, and having this idea as a basis, in this article I will address the importance of exercising in the perspective of what can happen to your body when you stop exercising to realize how it influences your health and your daily life.

If you already practice exercise, I hope this article will motivate you not to give up. If you’re still not practicing, then try to understand why you should do it.

Importance of exercise

benefits of physical exercise

Benefits of physical exercise

The exercise brings countless health benefits.

Some benefits are:

  • Improvements in cognitive level
  • Improved self-image and self-esteem
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased strength levels
  • Increased percentage of muscle mass
  • Reduction of the percentage of fat mass

As you can see, there are several and the list does not end here.

It is impossible to list all the benefits of a regular practice of physical exercise.

The exercise can be considered the miraculous “pill” you seek.

However, some people consider the practice of exercising something disposable or not essential.

And that, as far as I’m concerned, is a mistake that could bring bad results in the near future.

Check some of the major changes that can occur in your body when you stop exercising.

What happens to the body when you stop exercising

First of all, it is important to note that the effects of sports inactivity will be manifested in different timings, depending on the training level of each one, the type of training and external factors such as food and sleep.

Probably, if you only exercise once or twice a week, or if the exercise you do is only a daily walk, then, when you stop, the effects will not be as negative or immediately visible than in a person doing resistance training (such as bodybuilding) 3 to 4 times a week – because the body is more accustomed to receiving constant stimuli and suddenly ceases to receive them.

However, if you do not have any limitations that prevent you from exercising, any activity is better than no activity.

As you can see below, the lack of training or lack of regularity in training will affect your body in a huge manner.

Loss of strength and muscle mass

It is impossible to maintain the strength levels and the percentage of muscle mass without regular exercise practice.

Physical exercise, along with feeding, is one of the main responsible for the growth of muscle mass and strength gain – especially resistance exercises such as bodybuilding.

Thus, by quitting training, we lose muscle mass and, consequently, strength.

And this is something that will also influence our daily tasks, because many actions we do require strength on the arms and legs.

And all this is more important as we grow older.

This muscle mass will be instrumental in giving us autonomy when we’re older. While strength levels are responsible, for example, for avoiding falls at a more advanced age.

Loss of resistance/endurance


The regular practice of physical exercise contributes to the increase of physical resistance (not only muscular, but also of vital organs).

If you also have less muscular endurance, this will make you have to make more effort for some simple day-to-day activities.

Or imagine that you stop training for a month and try to do the same training plan again: You’ll probably have to lower the load, the intensity and the frequency until your body adapts again.

But the resistance is not only muscular and the cardio exercises prove it. They directly influence other organs that are responsible for the circulation and transport of oxygen through the body.

This loss / decrease of your endurance will take you out of breath with minimal effort and you will not be able to make physical efforts.

The loss of resistance inherent to the lack of exercise will also have a direct influence on the daily tasks.

Weight gain + muscle mass loss

Weight gain and muscle mass loss

It’s not a rule.

But physical inactivity usually has some associated weight gain.

This increase in weight is directly related to the loss of muscle mass and increase of fat mass – two things that can be avoided through regular practice of physical exercise.

Studies suggest that the increase in weight and the development of diseases such as obesity is due to physical inactivity (with little energy expenditure) rather than to the great consumption of food.

The fat mass can be visceral (closer to the organs and more dangerous) or subcutaneous (closest to the skin).

Both types of concentration affect the proper functioning of the organism, because the fat itself is resistant.

In other words, the more fat you find in your body, the harder it is to lose it.

This increase in fat mass dysregulates the proper functioning of the body, causing the body to give wrong hormonal responses.

For example, the probability of a man producing more estrogen (a hormone produced in greater quantity in women and responsible for female characteristics) is large, because the fat potentiates the production of estrone.

Water retention (fluid retention) is another factor with direct connection to weight gain without necessarily having to do with fat increase.

The regular practice of physical exercise is one of the ways to avoid fluid retention, especially through cardio exercises that improve circulation, such as running.

Cognitive imbalance + increased stress levels

stressed person

At the cognitive level, exercise has the power to support the production of neurotransmitters that directly influence the disposition and cognitive function (such as endorphins and serotonin).

Physical exercise also promotes the reduction of stress levels – especially the hormonal changes it allows – helping to improve the way the body handles stress.

In addition, studies reveal that the practice of physical exercise can contribute to the improvement of memory, increased concentration and improvement of sleep quality.

Sleep deprivation and the onset of insomnia may be caused by sedentary habits.

Sleep is very important because during sleep your body goes through several fundamental physiological processes to maintain the balance of the body.

Did you know that building and recovering muscle tissue happens when you’re at rest? So a good night’s sleep will help your body recover and rebuild.

In short…

When you think about whether or not to train, pay attention to the negative effects that a fault can bring.

It is no longer just about having a good physique, but it is about improving health levels and avoiding diseases in the future.

In my opinion, physical exercise should be so or more important than washing your teeth every day, because if we neglect one of these factors, our quality of life will deteriorate very quickly.

Good training and care for health and your body – you will live in it for the rest of your life.


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Tiago Sousa

Tiago Sousa
Tiago Sousa has a degree in Sports & Physical Education, he is a Personal Trainer and also a Crossfit L1 Trainer. He is a former competition swimmer with his own outdoor training business. He aims to bring more science to his area, helping people to achieve their goals in a safe way.

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