We know that playing sports helps maintain good mental and cardiovascular health. Moving also helps reduce the risk of cancer and obesity. These diseases develop over time. But can there be adverse effects in the shorter term? How does the body react after a few days of inactivity only? A team of researchers looked into the issue. The study, presented at the meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, reveals that our body is quickly affected.
14 days is enough
For this work, the researchers recruited 28 healthy middle-aged (32 years old) adults. Of this sample, 14 were women, and 10 were men. All had a BMI of 24, considered “normal”, and all were particularly active. These people were doing at least 10,000 steps a day as part of their daily activities. Some were playing sports, but not more than two hours a week.
The researchers then asked these people to reduce their physical activity for 14 days. Going from 10,000 steps a day to about 1,500. This is similar to sedentary behavior. On average, this meant that each participant spent about 103 minutes more resting each day. Tests (cardiovascular, respiratory, waist circumference, etc.) were performed before the start of the experiment and then after 14 days. And the results were surprising.
It was found that cardiorespiratory fitness levels dropped by 4% in all participants. All had also taken on average one centimeter of waist circumference, and 0.5% of fats throughout the body (liver, blood, etc.). Insulin resistance also increased slightly. “The study showed that two weeks of reduced physical activity resulted in a change in health markers associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” confirms Kelly Bowden Davies of Newcastle and Liverpool Universities and lead author of the study.
The good news is that if everything goes really fast in one direction, it goes very quickly in the other. It was noted that after 14 days of resumption of regular activities only, all indices returned to normal. Like what, even a slight increase in activity can have a positive effect on general health. “Just try to be more active. You’ll feel better, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it will help you too, advises Edmund Giegerich of the New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. There is no need to run a marathon. Walking is good. Get up, and move.
Note, however, the sample size, which is relatively small. It would be interesting to carry out additional analyzes on a larger number of people, and over a longer period.