Your body isn’t the only thing that suffers when you choose to skip the gym. Sure, the newly developing gut as result of missing workouts is a great excuse to keep up with your fitness goals, but what you might not realize is a healthy mental state is sustained by consistent exercise. Here are a few examples of things that might happen because of lack of exercise:

You Will Notice A Mood Change

Exercise produces all the hormones and endorphins that make you happy, including other feel good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endocannabinoids. Some studies even suggest that cardio can boost your mood just as effectively as antidepressants. New England Journal of Medicine also suggests that frequent workouts can stimulate the production of proteins, known as myokines, which protect the brain from depression caused by stress.

So there’s one reason to pick the gym over the couch. You’ll be much happier with the results, in more ways than one!

Your Memory May Suffer

A group of researchers at the University of Maryland scanned the brains of older athletes. In that study, they found that blood flow to the athletes’ brains dropped significantly after just a 10 day break from exercise. According to Devi Nampiaparampil, M.D., a pain management physician at NYU Langone Medical Center, it may be that decreased blood flow makes it more difficult to learn or develop new memories.

Other research studies have suggested that less blood flow to the hippocampus causes mild cognitive impairment and may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

You Won’t Be As Sharp

Studies have shown that exercise strengthens all parts of your brain and its tissues, which includes gray matter. This creates resistance in your brain against stress and aging.

If you stop working out, your gray matter suffers, which potentially sets the stage for issues processing information and thinking critically.

Concentrating Becomes Difficult

Even just short bursts of exercise lead to an immediate boost in concentration, according to research published in the British Medical Journal. The researchers speculate that the boost is at least partially responsible for the increased blood flow to the brain. It may also relate to the higher levels of chemicals in your blood that keep your brain on high alert.

So next time you’re torn between a Netflix marathon and a gym session, think about the consequences. Workouts keep more than just your body in shape. Exercise your mind!

Knockout Mag

Knockout Mag