After two weeks of exercise vacation, your VO2 max, or the measure that shows how much oxygen your working muscles can use, can decrease by 20 percent and any respiratory fitness gains you had could disappear completely.
One reason why this may happen is when you are inactive, you lose mitochondria. Mitochondria are mini-organs (organelles) in the cells that convert oxygen to energy. If you are immobile for 2 weeks, you may have lost the same amount of mitochondria you would have gained after 6 weeks of endurance training. Start exercising again and your mitochondria will come back.
Muscle Mass Loss
Although not as affected as endurance, strength can also be lost after a 2 week exercise break. According to Men’s Health, some studies have, “…found significant declines in muscle mass after 2 weeks of complete rest. This can hamper your ability to sustain high-intensity efforts.” Muscle mass will take longer for you to build back up after you have lost it, but it will take less time than someone who has never done strength training before.
In about a week, your muscles will lose some fat burning potential and your metabolism will slow down. Men’s Health reports, “In findings he published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, a 5-week exercise break boosted collegiate swimmers’ fat mass by 12 percent.”
If you want your original body back, it will take twice the amount of break time you took. For example, if you took two weeks off, you will require four weeks to get back to where you were.
And by the way, it is better to exercise once a week than to stop completely.
High Blood Pressure
If you do not exercise, your blood pressure will go up and this happens pretty quickly. Take your blood pressure at night on a day that your have exercised and do it again later that week on a day you did not exercise. Your blood pressure is almost always higher on the day you did not exercise. Every time. It takes two weeks for blood vessels to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle and for your blood pressure to normalize, however, your blood pressure reading will still be slightly higher when you are sedentary for several weeks than when you were in an exercise routine.
Men’s Health reports, “Within a month, stiffening arteries and veins send your BP back to where it would be if you’d never even left the couch, says study author Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut.”
If you start exercising, your blood pressure will drop, blood vessels function more effectively within a week, and after a month or two, your blood pressure may even be lower because your vasculature will be more flexible.
Spike in Blood Sugar
If you exercise, your muscles and tissues absorb most of the glucose from food. This causes blood glucose levels to decrease. However, after only 5 days of inactivity, blood sugar levels will stay elevated. According to a recent study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, “If you stay sedentary, continuously creeping glucose readings can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.” Only a week of regular exercise will dramatically drop blood sugar levels after a meal.
Your Brain Suffers
Missing two weeks of exercise makes people tired and grumpy and has an effect on brain health.
According to Men’s Health, “And though human evidence is limited, rat studies presented at a recent Society for Neuroscience conference suggest animals that stop moving for just a week grow fewer new brain cells and do worse on maze tests than those who stick to a steady wheel-running routine.”
David Wolf says, “Exercise even reduces the effects of depression and even moderate movement promotes the growth of the hippocampus (the area of the brain for memory).”
All that being said, we hope to see you this week OR even next.