No matter how dedicated we can be with our workout routine, we’ve all had those days (or weeks, let’s be real) where we ditch the morning workout for an extra hour of ZZZs or take a month-long vacay without a treadmill in sight.

Well, here’s something that might change your mind. Taking a fitness break for even just 10 days can have a negative effect on your brain power. For real.

A study in the Frontiers of Ageing Neuroscience journal compared the blood flow in the brains of healthy, fit adults aged between 50 and 90 years old both before and after a 10-day fitness haitus. The results found that, after the hiatus, blood flow had decreased within the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory).

Dr Jerome Carson Smith, the leading author of the University of Maryland School of Public Health research paper, said, “we did not find any evidence that cognitive abilities worsened after stopping exercising for just 10 days. But the take-home message is simple – if you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow.”

Sure, having a few chillax days may be just what you need to get back into exercise with more energy and enthusiasm, but don’t leave it for too long. ‘Cos you know, lower mental skills and all that.

So, on the days you’re not feeling like getting your hair all sweaty and gross, opt for a low-key cardio sesh instead. Your brain will love you for it!


Words by Natasha Corner.