What Happens When You Start Working Out (Again)?

Whether you’re picking up again after a long hiatus, or starting to work out for the first time, there are a few things you can expect.

It’s easy to think that we’ll feel great as soon as we start working out. But the truth is, our bodies are complex, and a lot happens when you first start working out.

You’ll Feel Sore

The bad news: it may feel pretty painful in the beginning. This is because exercise actually damages your muscles, causing you to feel sore. While this sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually not. When you suddenly do something your body isn’t used to, you may feel soreness and inflammation in your muscles. However, your body will heal itself and repair the microscopic damage caused during a workout, strengthening your muscles.

The good news is, the longer you keep it up, the less things change (and the less they hurt!). The body is extremely adaptable. If you stay consistent, you’ll discover that with every workout, you’ll achieve higher levels with less soreness.

Start slow and ease into a workout routine to minimize the initial pain and soreness. Many people make the mistake of going all out their first session in, leaving them so sore they can’t (or don’t want to) work out for a long while. This makes it difficult to establish a consistent fitness routine. A personal trainer can help you pace your workouts, slowly increase the fitness level, and help you stay consistent.

Your Energy Levels Will Increase Over Time

At first, it may feel like your workout sessions are leaving you with less energy. That’s normal, since your body won’t be accustomed to spending so much energy to exercise. Your body might need some time to adjust to your new higher activity level, but over time you should start feeling more energized after workouts.

Scientifically, exercise causes you to build more mitochondria. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and is responsible for producing energy more efficiently. A study published in PLOS One documented the results of nearly 100 college students who reported feeling fatigued and burned out. Half of the participants were told to run three times a week for six weeks; the other group was told not to change their workout habits. At the end of the study, the running group reported less overall fatigue than the control group.

Your Appetite May Grow

You may feel hungrier than normal after starting a new workout routine. Since you’re burning more calories than usual, your body may be looking to refuel itself.

If you do start getting hungry, just make sure you’re reaching for healthy options. A post-workout snack with a good amount of protein and healthy carbs can help keep the hunger cravings at bay.

You’ll Feel Better Inside And Out

Exercise puts your body under “stress,” stirring an immediate fight-or-flight response that has instant brain benefits. The increased blood flow to your brain makes you more alert, more aware, and more awake. Epinephrine is also released into your brain, causing you to feel more motivated.

There’s also no denying the mental and mood-boosting benefits of working out, in addition to the physical benefits. Consistent exercise has been shown to increase happiness, decrease stress, increase self-confidence, and fight depression. You’ll not only start to look great, but also feel great as your happiness and confidence grow.

Why It’s Important To Have a Workout Routine

Our bodies aren’t designed to sit still for long hours every day, but when we do, our muscles and tissue become stiff in order to help us remain in that sedentary position. The same concept is true for exercise: when you consistently work out, the body makes physiological changes to adapt to exercising on a regular basis. Once the muscle is formed, it’s relatively easy to stay fit, but once it’s gone, you’ll have to start from square one.

The first few weeks of working out may feel grueling, but it will get easier as your body continues to adapt to your workout routine.