University of Liverpool

Study: Just Two Sedentary Weeks Can Have Troubling Effects

It’s always important to keep moving – but don’t just take our word for it. Ask the researchers at the University of Liverpool.

They recently conducted a study to determine the effects of inactivity. Their findings? Just two weeks of inactivity in young healthy people can reduce muscle mass and produce metabolic changes that could lead to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and potentially premature death.

The study included 28 physically active young adults who averaged at least 10,000 steps per day, but didn’t really exercise otherwise. The participants were instructed to cut their daily step count by 80 percent, or to about 1,500 steps per day.

“Basically, they took 28 healthy, active people, and they recruited them to be couch potatoes – essentially to see what would happen,” Dr. Frank McGeorge from the Henry Ford Medical Group said in a recent interview with WJR Radio’s Paul W. Smith. “Nothing in their diet changed at all, so all they did was become couch potatoes.”

After two weeks, researchers noticed significant changes in the participants’ body compositions, including loss of skeletal muscle mass and increases in total body fat.

“After only 14 days – two weeks – of significantly decreased activity, all of the participants had a reduction in muscle mass, as well as an uptick in body fat – particularly that more dangerous, metabolically active central body fat,” Dr. McGeorge said.

Bursts over long periods of time don’t really do as much as being consistent.
— Dr. Frank McGeorge, Henry Ford Medical Group

Overall, results showed that cardio-respiratory fitness levels declined sharply and participants were unable to run for as long or at the same intensity as previously.

Scary. So what’s the takeaway here?

“The real value in this particular study is that it shows that very unhealthy changes can occur in a very short time – basically as little as two weeks – and it reminds everyone that it's important to try to be as consistent as possible when you're exercising, working out, or basically staying active and fit.”

Added Dr. McGeorge: “Bursts over long periods of time don't really do as much as being consistent."

In the end, it’s not about running marathons. It’s about getting a little healthier each and every day. Keep taking those #CarrotSteps.