- Reduced activity or a sedentary lifestyle even just for 2 weeks can significantly result to loss of muscle mass and increased weight.
- As your level of activity decreases, the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes increases.
- According to a expert: “The longer people are inactive, the harder it is to get back into shape, especially for those who already have health issues.”
According to a new study, in as little as two weeks, your body will increase weight, specifically abdominal fat, and lose muscle mass if you do not exercise. This would lead to risks of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even premature death.
The still unpublished new research from the University of Liverpool was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal.
The study involved 28 men and women who did not regularly exercise but walked 10,000 steps daily. Average age of participants was 25 and had a borderline body mass index of 25.
For 2 weeks, the participants were asked to lessen their activities by cutting back on time by 125 minutes daily on average. From 161 minutes, they just did 36 minutes of exercise. This led to an increase in inactivity to 129 minutes.
Although the study size was small and the time involved was just two weeks of reduced activity, the changes were significant. It also showed other changes like the inability to run longer and more intensely. The changes include: lowered insulin sensitivity and increased triglycerides (component of cholesterol) and accumulation of fat in the liver.
Kelly Bowden-Davis, the study’s lead author, points out that, although the participants reduced their activities, they were still going about their daily lives. “They still went to work or university, or looked after their children. So, this is a typical example of what some individuals are doing in society.”
And even with a study group of young and healthy individuals, the results were still surprising since, “If even those people were at risk, you have to think about what that means for patients who are older or less healthy, or who have other risk factors, like a family history of disease,” Bowden-Davis added.
The authors say, “Even for people who are regularly active, it’s not hard to imagine how some lifestyle change—like a new job or a longer commute—could trigger this type of reduction in walking and other types of regular exercise.”
But it is not all bad news: resumption of normal activity after 2 weeks of sedentary activity will also yield normal results, meaning, “The effects were entirely reversible—so it’s fine if you’re fit and well and you go on holiday for two weeks and then you get right back to normal,” according to co-author Dan Cuthbertson, reader and consultant for the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease.
Cuthberson added, “But the problem is that many people don’t reverse back to these levels of activity, and then perhaps the effects will accumulate. The longer people are inactive, the harder it is to get back into shape, especially for those who already have health issues.
“Simply being less sedentary and maintaining a high step count has very clear health benefits,” he says.