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Why Sudden Exercise Cessation Can Lead to Weight Gain

We can often see photos of professional athletes gaining weight after they retire. When they stop exercising, their bodies often grow “explosively.”

The main reason is diet. Exercise is interrupted, exercise consumption is reduced, and basal metabolism is also low, but your daily eating habits remain unchanged. So whether you gain weight during a break from exercise depends on your metabolic rate as well as your nutritional habits.

In addition to easily gaining weight, many changes will occur after exercise stops –

Endurance is the first to decline

Endurance comes slowly but goes away quickly. This is a problem that everyone has to face, so endurance is very expensive. It’s no wonder that many long-distance runners have been emphasizing running volume.

The root cause of poor endurance is that the heart, blood vessels, and respiratory systems become less efficient, and the muscles are less able to use oxygen.

The most common indicator of endurance events is VO2Max, which is the maximum oxygen uptake: V represents volume, O2 is oxygen, and max refers to the maximum volume of oxygen that the human body can absorb per kilogram of body weight per minute during exercise, in mL/( kg·min). It shows how efficiently your body uses oxygen during exercise.

VO2max is related to the body’s ability to bring in oxygen (vital capacity, respiratory rate, blood carrying oxygen) and to the body’s ability to use oxygen (muscle mitochondria use oxygen to produce energy). When you interrupt exercise, the number of mitochondria in your muscles decreases, causing your endurance to decrease. Over time, both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems begin to weaken. As time continues to increase, muscle mass deteriorates.

loss of muscle strength

Muscles are large energy consumers, and nature designed the human body to be very stingy—never waste energy unless necessary. So when you stop exercising to stimulate your body, your body’s muscle mass will decrease significantly in order to avoid excessive energy consumption. Schwarzenegger is a good example.

Bodybuilding period and political period

The good news is that if you take a short break from exercise, say less than 2 weeks, your strength will easily return quickly. The bad news is that if the pause time is longer, say more than 4 weeks, muscle strength will drop off a cliff.

Let’s talk about why people who have trained for a long time are more likely to rest on their laurels. It is because of “muscle memory”.

The muscles of the human body have a memory effect. After the same action is repeated many times, the muscles will form a conditioned reflex. Human muscles acquire memory very slowly, but once acquired, they forget it very slowly. This helps trained individuals recover more quickly after a break in exercise. Your muscles have shrunk, but your nerves are still alive, and your brain has stored your movements and strength templates, which will help you make a comeback.

71-year-old Schwarzenegger returned to the gym to rebuild his muscles for the filming of “Terminator 6”

Fat accumulates easily

What often happens is that many people gain weight after stopping exercising. As mentioned earlier, muscle mass is lost, but it does not turn into fat. Fat accumulation is largely caused by your diet.

Exercise is interrupted, exercise consumption is reduced, and basal metabolism is also low, but your daily eating habits remain unchanged. So whether you gain weight during a break from exercise depends on your metabolic rate as well as your nutritional habits. Even if you don’t do anything, you still have to control your diet in order to maintain it.

Reduced flexibility and flexibility

If your muscles are running smoothly, your flexibility will also become worse as your muscle mass decreases. If you stop exercising for a period of time, you will find that you can obviously feel a decrease in flexibility and flexibility near your hips, trunk and spine… For example, if you return to the postures you practiced in a yoga class after not training for 3 weeks, It will become very difficult.

Demoralized, lack of motivation

Taking occasional breaks is called relaxation, but by interrupting exercise for extended periods of time, we not only lose muscle (not surprisingly) but also brain strength. Research tests have found that after 10 days of inactivity, blood flow in multiple areas of the subject’s brain was significantly reduced, including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. This explains in principle that “becoming lazy” comes from the inside out.

Bottom line: Exercise is good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain, and if you don’t want to lose it, get moving.

How to minimize negative impacts?

After you stop exercising and start exercising again, how long does it take to get back to your previous level? From the previous discussion, we know that there are many factors and it is difficult to predict. Maybe he can return to the martial arts in a week or two, or maybe his martial arts skills are completely useless and the recovery time is as long as starting over.

In order to minimize the damage caused by interrupted exercise, we give the following suggestions:

Don’t stop exercising completely

People are rarely forced to completely stop long-term exercise unless they are seriously ill or injured. More often, it is voluntary giving up due to improper work or other time management.

In the case of lack of time, you can maintain basic abilities by reducing exercise frequency and exercise time, reduce the original training volume by 50%, or try some short-term but high-intensity interval training, they are really effective.

The general principle is not to pause for too long continuously. The body has a huge capacity buffer, and occasional stimulation is very effective in “maintaining”.

If injured, use the uninjured part to exercise

If you stop exercising because of an injury, such as a broken bone or ruptured tendon, you can slow down this physical decline by exercising the unaffected muscle groups.

This phenomenon is very interesting. When you exercise the parts that are not related to the injury, it will indirectly help the human body to maintain the overall state through the cardiovascular, endocrine system, and nervous system throughout the body. This so-called “cross-transfer” effect is also sometimes used in postoperative rehabilitation.

Of course, when you come back from an injury, don’t try to return to the level before the injury too quickly. After all, some parts are no longer factory original, and it takes a very long time for metabolism to rebuild.

Adjust your diet strategy according to the amount of exercise

The first is to reduce the calories and sugar in your diet, you don’t consume as much anymore, and the second is to make sure you get enough protein. This will at least help slow down the loss of muscle mass when you can’t exercise regularly.

Pausing for four weeks is the limit

As mentioned before, if you pause exercise for more than four weeks, you will experience a cliff-like regression. In any case, do not let your exercise be interrupted for more than four weeks. In order to avoid the lack of goals, you can often sign up for some small competitions, or make appointments with friends, join certain sports check-in organizations, bet with friends and pay fines, etc., and use these external forces to assist you. You should always exercise no matter what. .

Whether you’ve been sidelined by an injury, time management issues have gotten in the way of your workout, or you’ve simply lost motivation and slowed down, any interruption can lead to physical, mental, and emotional changes that start slowly and then slow down. A sudden steep drop.