What happens if you stop sporting?

Mariona Violán

22 August, 2019

Bringing an active lifestyle is one of the keys to enjoying good health and preventing many illnesses. Discover what risks and consequences you have to stop doing sports.

People are designed to move. Bringing an active lifestyle is one of the keys to enjoying good health and preventing many illnesses.

Sometimes people who are very active and who do sports regularly, accumulating a significant weekly hours volume, stop doing sports suddenly. If the pause is short of time for a health or personal issue, there is no problem. Although the return to sport must be progressive and well incorporated, since doing so too quickly can pose risks to our health. If the stoppage is longer or because of an illness or injury, the incorporation must be much more progressive and following parameters of sports readjustment, helped and advised by professionals.
When the stop is more than one month, we find changes to our body, which we can divide in:

Physical changes
The most important and the fastest thing to do is the loss of muscle mass and strength. Muscle loss is already remarkable 2 weeks after leaving the sport.
We also become slower and less agile. Joint mobility and flexibility decrease, as well as the ability to respond to coordination and balance.
After 8 weeks of leaving the sport, the loss of strength is between 7 and 12%. Being active helps lower the threshold of pain and have a higher sensitivity to algae sensations, especially at the articular level.

Metabolic changes
The reduction of metabolic expenditures is important, and if a feeding pattern is followed just as we did sport, the consequence will be a gain of weight that will increase the body fat.
If the sport had illnesses such as hypertension, cholesterol, high sugar, etc., the fact that it ceases to be active can trigger the level of numbers of these parameters. The risk of cardiovascular diseases and long-term metabolic disorders is increased.
When leaving the training, the body reduces its oxygen consumption. If exercise improves capillaryity, stop reducing it and decrease the ability to become more effective and worse the cardiac and circulation, as we spend more time sitting.

Emotional changes
The decrease in the level of endorphins and other hormones that give a sense of well-being and that are released when doing sports, can cause us to be more irritable, sadder or with a feeling of having less energy, even for daily tasks.
You can also see the ability to sleep in a restorative way, and even suffer from anxiety or be depressed.
All of this can lead us into a vicious circle where tiredness and discouragement make it even harder to return to physical activity.
Being active daily is not difficult, you need to break with barriers and excuses, and look for opportunities every day that make us accumulate more than 150 - 300 minutes a week of moderate physical activity. To make an active life again, we can start with small weekly challenges and you will see how we find ourselves better, with more energy, with better sound quality, with more encouragement and less pain.

Depending on the reasons why it is no longer active, the return must follow different progression guidelines, which is why it is highly advisable to follow the advice of the professionals to make an appropriate sports readjustment, especially when leaving an injury.

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the author

Mariona Violán

Head of the Can Caralleu Health Area

Graduate in medicine and surgery (UB). Specialist in Physical Activity and Sports Medicine (UB). Fellowship in Sports Medicine and Nutritional asses and exercise prescription at Childrens Hospital, Boston, and Sargent College.

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