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We’ve all been there. Be it the evenings getting darker, or if you’re swamped in the office all week, sometimes it’s particularly easy to think of a LOT of reasons to avoid keeping on top of your fitness. Sometimes harnessing the motivation to actually make the trip to the gym can be more difficult than what you actually plan on doing when you get there.

So, in order to keep you motivated when you want nothing more than to spend an evening on the couch, here is what actually happens to your body when you throw in the proverbial towel and stop going to the gym.

10 Days

Your brain has already started to change. It’s not exactly revelatory that working out is good for your mental state but taking a hiatus from the gym is theorised to actually physically change your brain.

A study conducted by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience suggests that even a 10 day gap in between workouts can change how blood flows to your hippocamus, which is the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion. And, trust us, you need both of those things.

14 Days

At this point, your endurance has plummeted and your VO2 levels have shrunk. This means that you now have a lower ceiling of oxygen that you can efficiently use in your system. A two week break can reduce this by as much as 10% — and it will continue to drop the longer you stay away from the gym.

Four Weeks

After a month away from your excercise routine, your strength will slow (but noticeably) start to drop. Your endurance, already diminished, is continuing to drop at an increased rate. If you let it get this far, it is going to be a much more time-consuming exercise to re-establish your old routine.

Eight Weeks

After two months, you have already noticed that you have significantly less strength. Your endurance, already well below its peak, is going to take some serious work to get back and, for the first time, you are starting to notice a few extra pounds on your frame when you look in the mirror.

A study conducted four years ago in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that high-level swimmers noticed a 12% increase in their body fat after taking a five week break between competition. Another study conducted this year showed that Taekwando athletes experienced an increase in body fat and a decrease in muscle mass upon taking an eight week break from training and competition.

It’s worth noting that your body does require rest from time to time and over-training is not good for your system either but keep in mind that the longer you stay away from exercise, the harder it is to get back to the level you were once at.

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