What Happens If You Don't Exercise?

Whether you are young or old, it’s a good idea to get regular exercise. Many assume that only athletes need to be physically active but the truth is that it’s important for everyone. Being physically inactive will not only affect your looks, your bone density and immune system will also weaken. Read to learn more.

What Happens If You Don’t Exercise?

1.   Obesity

The World Health Organization reports that those who aren’t physically active have the double risk of becoming obese. This is a serious health concern for anyone, young or old. There are numerous diseases related to obesity, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea.

2.   Higher Chance of Gallstones

Without exercise, the speed at which waste goes through the colon will slow down. This can cause gallstones, especially when there are increased triglycerides involved as well. If you have gallstones, you may see symptoms like nausea, fever and pain in stomach.

3.   Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

If you aren’t using the bones in your body, you may start to lose bone mass. The longer you are inactive, the more likely you are to see your bones weaken. You will then develop osteoporosis and become more prone to fractures. This is more commonly seen in elder adults. Being active can help to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.

4.   Greater Chance of Hypertension

When you don’t exercise, your blood will press against the artery walls more forcibly, causing hypertension. It is a sizeable risk factor in developing other diseases such as kidney disease and stroke. With good activity, you will see your heart grow stronger. This means it can pump blood more efficiently.

5.   Increased Risk of Breast and Colon Cancer

What happens if you don’t exercise? Inadequate physical activity can raise your risk of colon cancer. This is because your digestion is slowed down, leaving waste to sit in your colon longer. So it may be exposed to carcinogens longer.

Exercise helps regulate hormone levels; when the hormone is out of balance, breast cancer risk increases. The National Cancer Institute suggests regular exercise to help regulate and lower hormones that may cause cancerous tumors.

6.   Greater Chance of Heart Disease

Your blood flow can be impaired when you aren’t exercising. High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and it increases with inactivity. With exercise, LDL cholesterol drops and your HDL levels can increase, which are helpful in protecting against heart disease.

7.   More Likely to Develop Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes happens when you don’t produce enough insulin or you have developed resistance to insulin. There are two factors that can put you at risk: being overweight and not getting enough exercise. Diabetes can cause complications such as heart and kidney diseases, nerve damage and eye problems.

8.   Breathing Problem

What happens if you don’t exercise regularly is that you will get winded when you do exert yourself. Without regular activity, your body has a harder time utilizing oxygen, therefore you won’t feel like you’re getting enough air. Regular exercise can help with blood vessel and heart health, and lung capacity.

9.   Poor Sleep

An increase in total sleep time has been linked to regular exercise. It has been shown that exercise can help insomnia and improve sleep quality. Without adequate exercise, you may end up with poor sleep.

10.   Slower Metabolism

When you don't exercise, your muscles shrink and body fat increases, causing slower metabolism. To help combat this, get regular aerobic exercise and weight training.

11.   Lower Energy Levels

All your cells that make up your organs, muscles and body tissue have mitochondria. They work to produce energy. When your heart isn’t working properly due to lack of exercise, your mitochondria levels will drop. This causes reduced energy supply and fatigue.  

12.   Muscular Problems

What happens if you don’t exercise? Muscular problems can be another possibility. Your muscles will become thin and weak. A sedentary lifestyle can even lead to atrophy. This means your muscles will decline, lose flexibility and be more likely to get injured.

13.   Weaker Immune System

Studies have shown that without regular aerobic exercise, you will see a lowered immune system. You will be more prone to the flu and common cold. If you are getting sick regularly, start exercising now but begin slowly.

14.   Increased Risk of Anxiety and Depression

In addition to the physical troubles, you can also suffer from negative emotional problems. WHO reports that people who are inactive are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. When you exercise, chemicals are released in the body which reduce stress and improve mood.

15.   Sex Issues

Without exercise, you will see a decrease in strength and stamina, affecting your sex life. Lack of exercise can cause stress which is the leading cause of a decreased libido. Moreover, erectile dysfunction is also possible in men who live a sedentary life.


Some disease risk factors such as gender and age can't be helped, but you can change how much you exercise. Some great exercises are jogging, cycling and swimming. Lifestyle changes that get you moving every day, such as taking the stairs or going for a walk, can also make a difference.

In fact, 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and two sessions of strength training are recommended weekly. It's important to remember that time and exercise can help decrease or reverse the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

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