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"Just 14 days of physical inactivity can raise risk of chronic disease."

It is well established that a lack of exercise can raise the risk of chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. New research, however, finds that the risk of such conditions could increase with as little as 2 weeks of inactivity.

In a study of young, healthy adults, researchers found that switching from moderate-to-vigorous activity to near-sedentary behavior for just 14 days led to metabolic changes that could raise the risk of chronic disease, and even premature death.

Study leader Dr. Dan Cuthbertson, of the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the European Congress on Obesity 2017, held in Portugal.

Current guidelines recommend that adults aged between 18 and 64 years engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that fewer than 50 percent of adults meet the exercise recommendations.

Lack of regular physical activity is a key contributor to obesity. In turn, this can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, and even some types of cancer. Insufficient exercise can also hinder bone and muscle health.
Testing the effects of a step-reduction protocol

For their study, Dr. Cuthbertson and colleagues set out to investigate how just 2 weeks of physical inactivity affects the body.

The researchers enrolled 28 healthy adults with a mean age of 25 years. The adults had a mean body mass index (BMI) of 25, and they were all physically active, clocking up an average of 10,000 steps every day.

For 14 days, subjects were required to participate in a step-reduction protocol, whereby they reduced their daily steps by 80 percent, to around 1,500. All participants underwent extensive health checks before and after the study, and activity trackers were worn throughout.

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