Benefits from cycling are instant, within a 24-hour period, your metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, and your mood all improves. The number of long term benefits also increases as you keep up riding, but everyone needs a break from time to time, and stopping too long will definitely cancel out all those benefits, with some almost right away. Here is what happens to your body when you stop riding.
Within 24 hours
Your mood plummets, and your metabolism slows.
While exercising, your brain produces serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. And if your body does not get that fix of serotonin, even for a day, your mood will plummet. Your metabolism is increased when you ride, burning around 400 – 500 calories an hour, which roughly equals to a pound of fat a week. That is a pound of fat a week that you don’t burn when you stop riding.
After a week
Your blood pressure and blood sugar rises.
Exercise like cycling signals your body to release hormones, these hormones make your blood vessels more compliant. Pumping more blood through your system, which can also help your arteries and veins become more flexible. Research finds that cycling can lower your blood pressure around 8-10 points in a month, and in just one week after you stop riding, it starts to rise again and by the 2nd week you are back to square one. Sugar that enters your bloodstream is stored as energy when you are riding regularly, but just after about a week of break from riding the sugar remains in your blood, which could lead to diabetes and heart diseases according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Furthermore, the enzymes that soak up fat and sugar in your bloodstream will start to shut down once you are inactive, which causes blood sugar and cholesterol to rise.
After two to four weeks
Your blood volume decreases, and your overall fitness declines.
After only two to four weeks off your bike, your blood volume drops along with your body’s ability to use the oxygen it contains. Your stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart in each beat, decreases. Your mitochondria, where energy production occurs in cells, start to shrink. What it boils down to is that your aerobic physical fitness and endurance capacity will plummet.
After more than one month
Your clothes feel tighter as you put on weight.
Your stored fat rises, as your metabolic rate decreases. A Study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research show that after stopping training for just five weeks, swimmers put on pounds, increased their waistlines, and increased their body fat by 12%.
Your overall health declines in many ways.
Specifically, you become significantly weaker, have more body fat, become more resistant to insulin, and have less grey matter (grey matter serves to process information in the brain).
So remember, keeping up riding for just once or twice a week can help tremendously in maintaining your fitness, so you can enjoy all the benefits you reap from riding without having to start from square one every time you take a break.
Read more on What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Riding.
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