A study has found that a body needs a day of fitness routines, such as taking at least 10,000 steps.
As millions of us resolve to be fitter in 2015, researchers say being idle for even a few days results in poorer blood flow in the legs – and the effects take time to fix.
Paul Fadel, associate professor of medical pharmacology and physiology, at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, said: “We found skipping just five days of activity causes damage to blood vessels that can take a prolonged period of time to repair.
“If you do not realise how harmful sitting around all day and not doing any activity is to your health, this proves it.”
Obesity or just being overweight were also factors.
Mr Fadel said: “The next step after weight gain is insulin resistance – which leads to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Low physical activity is considered to be fewer than 5,000 steps a day, which is half the recommended amount for good health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes. It estimates a third of people born after 2000 will have Type 2 diabetes at some point.
Previous studies have shown reduced blood-vessel function is also linked to early death from heart attacks and high blood pressure.
Researchers said that counting steps and daily physical activity was not the same as “defined exercise”, such as going to the gym.
While there are significant benefits to working out, the research was based on 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. But Mr Fadel said there was hope for those who had been glued to the telly for too long.
“We know negative consequences can be reversed,” he said.
“There’s data to indicate that at any stage of a disease and at any time in a person’s life, they can get active and prolong their life.”
Associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology John Thyfault added: “We need to teach people about the physiology of their bodies and the physiology of the disease process – and help them understand inactivity plays a foundational role.”
He suggested the use of pedometers to count steps every day would help people move more. "Then they will see and feel health improvements,” said Mr Thyfault. These studies are proof people need to understand activity every day plays a role in their health.
“It’s not simply about body weight or how someone looks in the mirror,” he added.
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