How many times have you read that regular physical activity is important for overall health and wellbeing? Your doctor probably says the same thing whenever you go to a checkup. Despite the fact we read about the importance of physical activity on a daily basis, we still don’t do much about it. A sedentary lifestyle is quite common today and we live in the age when watching TV all day seems more appealing than going out and being active. It turns out your doctor and all those articles you read were right – physical activity is crucial for overall health. In fact, just two weeks of inactivity increases* your risk of chronic disease, according to the latest study.
Physical Inactivity Study
Some people don’t like to work out and prefer sedentary lifestyle over activity. Others enjoy the active lifestyle and strive to exercise regularly. However, there comes the time when you think it is okay to be lazy from time to time. You probably think “well, I work out every day, I deserve to be lazy and do nothing for a few days”. This isn’t a right move!
Even if you exercise, taking a short break from active lifestyle can still jeopardize your health according to a study carried out by Kelly Bowden-Davies and Dan Cuthbertson from the Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease at the University of Liverpool.
All participants underwent health checks before and after the study and they were asked to keep a dietary journal as well. During the course of the study, 14 days, participants had to decrease* the step count by 80% to about 1500.
The step reduction* process led to a 125-minute decline in physical activity from 161 minutes a day to just 36 minutes. At the same time, sedentary time of participants increased by 129 minutes per day.
Findings of this study were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal and they revealed that reducing* physical activity for two weeks resulted in a loss of skeletal muscle mass. What’s more, total lean muscle mass declined by 0.36 kilograms while the loss of leg lean mass was 0.21 kilogram on average.
That’s not all, 14 days of physical inactivity increased total body fat in participants. Unsurprisingly, the body fat accumulation occurred in the central i.e. abdominal area. As you already know, abdominal fat is quite stubborn and tricky to lose*. Moreover, central accumulation of body fat is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even premature death.
These findings are alarming, particularly if we bear in mind all participants were healthy and had an active lifestyle. Since they weren’t overweight and didn’t have any health condition, it is quite troubling that 14 days of inactivity caused small but significant changes in markers that predispose people to risk.
Fortunately, these negative changes were reversed when participants returned to a healthy, active lifestyle. This only stresses the importance of regular exercise for disease prevention. Scientists explain that going to the gym a few times per week isn’t enough for individuals who are sedentary most of the time. To improve* their health, strive to be active almost all day, take walks, and just be on your feet.
The most recent study discovered that 14 days of physical inactivity resulted in higher risk of chronic disease in otherwise active individuals. Luckily, when participants started exercising again, these negative changes disappeared. This only confirms that regular exercise is an important pillar of overall health and wellbeing.