What Happens To Your Body When You Never Move?

being active to stay healthy

Our culture today is experiencing a lifestyle shift unlike any other. As modern technology continues to skyrocket toward the future, an almost perfect negative correlation can be found in the amount of physical activity the average individual performs.

While the perils of a sedentary lifestyle are pretty well known now, I want to go into a few specifics with you.

How inactivity affects your muscular system

A common trend you’ll notice as you read through this post is the body’s remarkable ability to re-allocate resources to specific parts as it deems necessary. Muscles a clear example of this and one that you can observe quite quickly if you do choose a sedentary lifestyle.

When the muscular system is not frequently exposed to outside stresses and resistances that require muscle tissue to contract and shorten, the body notices and begins to decrease the amount of nutrients and oxygen the muscle receives.

Naturally, this leads in turn to a reduction in overall muscle size and strength. On the contrary, if the body realizes that a muscle or group of muscles is being asked to handle an increased workout on a consistent basis, these structures will receive a greater influx of nutrients, thereby increasing in both size and force output.

In other words, don’t use your muscles and you’ll lose them, which brings a number of related health issues, such as slowed metabolism, risk of falls, reduced immunity, inability to handle the normal activities of daily living and more.

BUT, use your muscles and challenge them to greater work through resistance training and they’ll get stronger and increase in mass meaning you’ll burn more calories at rest, everything you do will take less effort, you’ll boost your immunity and you’ll have reduced risk of falls.

What not moving does to your skeletal system

Our bones are specifically designed to provide an overall framework for the body, protect vital organs, store nutrients and specific types and cells and manage the perpetual effect of gravity. When an individual’s lifestyle is devoid of adequate physical activity, the skeletal system, as with most other body systems, begins to deteriorate due to a decrease in the nourishment it receives.

The overall strength of a bone is usually described in terms of bone mineral density (BMD). Processes such as prolonged periods of inactivity and ageing are marked by an increase in this parameter. Quite obviously, decreased bone mineral density is highly correlated to increase breaks and fractures, as well as reduced overall functionality an individual maintains so it’s definitely not something you want to encourage.

Inactivity and your cardiovascular system

No matter how inactive you choose to be, your heart won’t join you lounging around on the sofa doing nothing.  It will carry on beating as long as you’re alive but although your heart will continue to function despite an inadequate amount of movement, it is far from immune to it.

Just a few examples of how lack of movement negatively affects the heart are a weaker, less efficient contraction, decreased oxygen uptake and obstructed flow of blood the through body. These issues force the heart to work much harder to keep you alive, which inevitably decreases the lifespan of the heart itself.

What not moving does to your metabolism and subsequently your weight

Probably the most visibly obvious consequence of not moving enough is an increase in body weight, oftentimes leading to obesity. Your body has a specific amount of calories it requires to maintain vital structures such as the heart, brain and liver.  This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate.  It’s the number of calories your body needs to keep you alive. The calories you eat over your BMR is allocated to provide energy towards physical activity and movement.

In a movement deficit, these leftover calories are not burned and end up being stored somewhere in the body for a later date. As you can probably guess, one of the main storage vessels is adipose tissue or body fat. Digressing back to the effects of inactivity of muscle tissue, specifically the reduction in muscle size due to non-use, metabolism is intricately involved in this process. Lean muscle mass actually has a high demand for calories even while at rest.

The more muscle present in the body, the higher the metabolic rate becomes. To put it simply, there will actually be less of those leftover calories we previously discussed, resulting in less potential for storage in the form of fat.

So that adage that “sitting is the new smoking” is unfortunately very close to the mark.