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Short-Term Effects of No Exercise

author image Kathryn Vera
Kathryn Vera holds a master's degree in exercise physiology, as well as licensure as a Registered Dietitian. Currently, she works as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation, where she provides care to patients living with chronic heart disease.
Short-Term Effects of No Exercise
A man at his desk looking tired. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Exercise has been credited with a number of long-term benefits, including healthy weight reduction, lowered risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, and improvement in mental health. If you skip exercise -- even on a short-term basis -- you are likely to notice a number of detrimental effects. Try to make time for at least 10 to 15 minutes of activity each day to avoid these consequences.

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Fatigue is a common short-term effect of no exercise, says the American College of Sports Medicine. In many cases, this leads to an unending cycle: You are too tired to exercise, and that leads to even greater fatigue. Research conducted at the University of Georgia suggests that even low-intensity exercise may help you avoid fatigue and that for sedentary adults it may be a better response to fatigue than caffeine or energy drinks.

Increased Appetite

The ACSM reports that regular aerobic exercisers who miss a few workouts may notice an increase in appetite. Cardiovascular exercise promotes positive changes in the hunger and satiety hormones ghrelin and peptide YY. It should come as no surprise, then, that missing a regular workout will negatively affect appetite and fullness cues. Over time, this increase in appetite can lead to substantial weight gain and the risk of becoming overweight or obese.


Short-term effects of no exercise also include greater difficulty in the management of stress, notes ACSM. The Stress Management Society reports that regular exercise can increase the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that boost mood, promote relaxation and ease feelings of stress and anxiety. While any type of exercise is better than none, aerobic activity is especially effective at producing endorphins. A lack of such exercise for even a short period of time may make you more likely to experience stress.

Poor Sleep

Missing a workout may make falling asleep or staying asleep more difficult. Regular exercise promotes consistency in your sleep cycle and can be effective in the management of insomnia. The ACSM notes that people with poor sleep habits may find it difficult to fall asleep after missing a few days of exercise. If you are using exercise as part of a treatment plan for insomnia, you may be especially at risk of negative changes in your sleep pattern after missing a few exercise sessions.

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