The past few months have had quite a negative impact on my overall health and fitness. Considering the flood damage to my basement, which took away my workout space, to having everything we had IN the basement moved out to the garage, thereby taking away my backup workout space, my four to six workouts a week have pretty much melted down to nonexistence. Include the fact that the temperatures here in Saskatchewan have fallen into the minuses and there’s snow and frost on the ground, making it impractical to go cycling and the fact that my dojo still hasn’t re-opened due to COVID-19, and I’ve slowly been turning into a couch potato.
My wife and I had started a routine where we would do yoga stretching in the mornings, once Nathan had gone to school. But depending on work obligations and how fussy our 1-year old infant might be on a given day, even those have slowly taken the wayside. It also doesn’t help that recent months have seen me include CGM and Auto Mode into the mix, and any new Diabetic therapy always has the potential to be touch-and-go during the first months. So working out with all of this going on has been a challenge. And the results are visible and very much felt…
I often write about all the benefits and the good things that happen when you work out consistently, but most people don’t consider the effects that may happen when you stop. Or even if you never started in the first place. I know some people that have essentially never worked out before and never had the inclination, as they’re in good health and their weight seems manageable. Does this mean they don’t NEED to work out? Absolutely not; everyone should include fitness in their weekly routine in one form or another.
There are a number of things that will happen to you physically, as well as psychologically, if you suddenly stop working out and exercising. There are plenty of good articles online that will describe the exact details, but I’m providing my personal list, based on my metabolism and the fact I have Type-1 Diabetes:
- Blood sugar control will be altered: This is a pretty big one for someone with Type-1 Diabetes, because it took me all summer to condition my system and get my blood sugar levels controlled to endure 70-kilometre bike runs or 2-hour karate workouts. Now that those have ground to a halt, some of my blood sugar readings have been higher than they should be, since I’m no longer exercising and burning as many calories as I used to. Which brings me to my next point…;
- Your body will store more fat: You use two primary forms of energy in your body. Carbohydrates, which is the immediate energy source you obtain by eating your meals. The second are your fat stores, which are only accessed during rigorous exercise. Carbs are a temporary energy source and need to be constantly replenished, whereas fat stores offer a wonderful amount of energy but won’t burn unless you do. So less exercise means that fat will more readily stick to your body;
- Cholesterol and Insulin resistance: Lack of exercise means bad cholesterol goes up and good cholesterol goes down. Brutal, right? That’s without taking diet into consideration. And your insulin sensitivity will decrease as well, meaning you’ll need more insulin to process the same amount of carbs as before you stopped exercising;
- Your endurance will vanish: Your endurance is one of the first things to start decreasing when you stop working out. The only silver lining to this one, is that it’s quick to come back once you commit yourself to training again. But it definitely makes it harder to work out as intensely as you did before, which is why it’s important to maintain certain levels;
- Your mood and sleep will be altered: I could go on a long rant about the hormones and endorphins that are released in the body during exercise, but that would be a hell of a long rant and that isn’t why we’re here, today. Suffice it to say that quitting exercise will adversely affect your mood, make you more prone to seasonal depression, irritability and feelings of worthlessness. Not least of which is the fact that your sleep pattern will be all screwed up. Ever notice your level of exhaustion after a long night of cycling or working out? Once you’ve taken that hot shower, it doesn’t take long for a person to pass out once their head hits the pillow;
- Your self-image will be affected: Let’s be honest with each other… You may not have a goal in mind to join the olympics or look like a supermodel. Perhaps you do and if so, good for you. But your fitness is your responsibility and you only get out of it what you’ve put in. And one must admit that having that gut start poking out when you’ve been used to being in decent shape can have a negative effect on your self-image.
People work out and exercise for different reasons. Some do it for health, some do it for sport, some even teach particular skills, like martial arts. And there’s really no bad reason for working out, but there are bad reasons for stopping. Life and obligations get in the way and let’s be honest; some days we just don’t feel like it. But it’s like trying to ice skate uphill… sometimes it’s a slippery slope, but you’ll never reach the top unless you keep on pushing. ☯