What Happens To The Body When It Doesn't Get Enough Exercise

The benefits of exercise

Many things happen to the body when it doesn't get enough exercise. Unfortunately, it goes way beyond gaining weight. It's important to remember that even a little bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all. Continue reading to learn more about the dangers of inactivity and the benefits of exercise. No one is immune!

Energy Levels

Mitochondria are energy-producing structures, which live in the cells of body tissues, organs, and muscles. These amazing little structures need carbohydrates and oxygen to work properly. Since mitochondria are required for all bodily functions and movement, you definitely can't live without them. Mitochondrial levels drop when your heart isn't working at its full potential, and your oxygen levels are diminished, due to lack of exercise. Fatigue occurs when energy production is slowed down, and the body requires the same amount of energy to get work done.

Bone Issues

Bones love a good workout, almost as much as they love calcium. The lack of weight-bearing exercise causes bones to lose density and the ability to properly store calcium. Less calcium in your bones means more of a mineral build up in organs such as your kidneys, which can cause kidney stones. If the period of inactivity is long enough bones eventually began to weaken. This often results in osteoporosis, which leads to a much higher risk of painful bone fractures.

Muscle Problems

Just like bones, muscles benefit from a good workout. One of the first signs of being out of shape due to inactivity is a loss of strength and muscle tone. When muscles are idle, blood flow slows down, and the exchange of waste products and nutrients decreases. Fewer mitochondria result in lack of muscle coordination.

Without exercise, the "electrical" connection between your nerves and muscles is sporadic at best. How does this affect you? You'll typically find it more difficult to move around with the agility that you once could. It can also mean decreased strength and an increased risk of muscle injury, because of shrinking muscle mass.

Heart-Related Difficulties

Whatever your age, it's important to keep your heart as healthy as possible. Even though your heart muscle is different from your skeletal muscles, the same health-related principles apply. Without proper exercise, the heart muscle shrinks. This makes it difficult to adequately distribute blood throughout the body and causes the heart to work much harder to get the blood to where it needs to go, especially in your hands and feet. Sluggish blood flow can lead to plaque formation in the blood vessels. This, in turn, sometimes causes high blood pressure, dizziness and circulation problems. All of these conditions are potentially dangerous if left untreated.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise every week -- but less than half of all Americans do so. We can all find lots of excuses for not getting our bodies in motion, but there's an equally compelling list of reasons why we should do so.

As you can see, inactivity causes havoc in and damage to your body. This is especially true for individuals who already deal with chronic conditions because it typically only makes things worse. In many cases, periods of inactivity are inevitable. But, the sooner you can participate in even a light exercise regimen, the better off your mind and your body will be.

Joining a gym might be the kickstart that you need to reverse the negative effects of inactivity. Below are six great reasons why a gym membership is a really good idea, starting with the most obvious one. 

1. Get Healthy

A gym encourages you to do a balanced program that includes both aerobic and strength training exercises. These promote heart health and weight loss, help prevent osteoporosis and improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility. 

2. Find Support and Motivation

Some people really enjoy exercise; for others, it's a chore. If you fall into that latter group, being surrounded by other people who are in the same boat can provide the incentive you need to make exercise part of your regular routine. Your initial intention might be to drag yourself to the gym twice a week, but once you find your rhythm, you may end up going on a more regular basis, which will help make your goals more attainable.

3. Get Stress Relief

According to the Mayo Clinic, virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever -- whether you're a serious athlete or out of shape. Physical activity boosts the brain's production of endorphins, which simply makes us feel better physically and have a brighter emotional outlook. Exercise reduces tensions in both the body and the mind, which can improve your mood and the quality of your sleep. For many people, the gym becomes a bit of sanctuary where you can turn off the phone and forget all of the troubles at work or in your personal life.

4. Learn From the Pros

Many gyms now have professional trainers on staff -- often people with college degrees in sports science or other related fields, along with personal training certificates. They are trained to design exercise programs that fit your individual needs in a fun and safe way, showing you proper exercise techniques so that you don't hurt yourself and that you get the most out of each exercise routine.

5. Sample the Variety

One of the big advantages a gym has are the wide array of weights, machines, exercise classes and other elements. This gives you the opportunity to try new exercise equipment and vary your routine. If you do the same workout day-in and day-out, your body builds a type of muscle memory and the gains you make are incrementally decreased. Fitness experts say that finding different ways to exercise the same muscles and muscle groups can improve the quality of your workout.

6. Sweat Together

Many people find exercise classes to be the most efficient and fun way to get a full body workout. You can do everything from boot camp to yoga. There's usually a very energetic leader to help provide you with some extra motivation. 

If you're serious about your health and getting in better shape, there's no better time to start than right now. The longer you put it off, the more excuses you'll come up with and the harder it is to start.