The consequences of physical inactivity on the body The consequences of physical inactivity on the body

According to a study that was presented at the European Congress on Obesity, being inactive for just two weeks can lead to changes that increase the risk of developing a disease. 

The research shows the effects of physical inactivity on a healthy person that spends an entire weekend laying down, does not leave their home to spend time in the sun and eats a diet of junk food. This can reduce muscle mass, change metabolism and even lead to heart disease, diabetes and potentially, premature death. (See also: Physical inactivity: a good way to gain weight).

For this study, researchers worked with 28 people between ages 25 and 30 that were physically active (they took 10,000 steps a day) and did not weigh more than 80 kg. They were equipped with a bracelet to measure their physical activity and were given constant health check-ups while spending 1 to 14 days in bed. All of the participants reduced their physical activity by 80% and took the equivalent of 1,500 steps a day, which is the number of steps it took them to go from the bed to the fridge, kitchen or bathroom. In order of the number of days of inactivity, the results were as follows:

From one to four days
This is the average number of days of a holiday weekend. By the fourth day, researchers found significant changes in their body composition, including a loss of muscle and bone mass, associated with an increase in body fat, even though this could not be detected visually.

From four to eight days
Body fat accumulates in the stomach, hips, arms and back, and cholesterol levels rise in the arteries. Researchers determined that these eight days was enough time for heart diseases to develop.

From eight to twelve days
A loss in lean mass occurs (total body fat) of .57 kilograms. Mitochondrial function reduces significantly by 30%, the function that maintains the creation of new skin and body cells and keeps them active.

From twelve to fourteen days
Small but significant changes were noted in the respiratory system: reduced body and bone mass, and the development of chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke and asthma.

This research makes it clear that regardless of age, weight and state of health, our day to day physical activity is key to abstaining from disease and health complications,” state doctors Kelly Bowden and Dan Cuthbertson, the researchers that conducted the study.

Read also: Be careful of occasional exercise