Engaging in a regular workout benefits your body in multiple ways, including building muscle tone and burning calories, but many seasoned exercisers and newcomers to the world of fitness lack awareness of what happens when they skip exercise. Though it may seem harmless, passing up on your daily workout negatively affects your body and lifestyle in a handful of important ways.
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One of the most obvious effects of skipping exercise is weight gain. Your body burns calories during exercise and cutting back on that exercise means that those calories don’t get used. Your body stores unused calories as fat. Over time, stored fat becomes excess pounds. How long before your lapsed exercise regimen starts affecting your body? Fat cells can start swelling and increase in weight after only two days of physical inactivity, according to a 2005 study led by the University of Missouri’s David Kump and published in the June 2005 issue of The Journal of Physiology.
If you’re interested in getting enough sleep, resist the temptation to skip your workout, especially if you have a history of insomnia. Physical activity typically helps encourage you to get to sleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. During exercise, your body’s temperature increases slightly, followed by a temperature dip that occurs several hours later. This exercise-induced temperature dip encourages sleep, provided you exercise at least three hours before hitting the pillows, notes Gregg Jacobs, author of “Say Good Night to Insomnia.” Failing to exercise keeps your body from going through this rise and subsequent fall in temperature, which makes it harder for you to get the shuteye your body needs.
Opt out of your exercise regimen and you could just find yourself feeling down in the dumps. Though the exact relationship between depression and exercise is still somewhat unclear, during exercise your body releases “feel-good” chemicals, such as endorphins, and reduces production of stress-linked hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine. This release and withholding of chemicals and hormones won’t occur on days that you skip your daily workout.
Long-Term Health Consequences
Skipping exercise increases your chances of suffering chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Generally, these diseases arise as a result of long-term poor exercise habits, but in the case of your body’s use of insulin, you may suffer negative effects within just two days of skipping exercise, according to a 2004 study led by Kump. Published in the November 2004 issue of the Journal of Physiology, study results indicate that your body’s ability to use insulin efficiently could decrease by as much as one-third within two days of ceasing regular exercise, potentially increasing your risk of diabetes.