If you have entered full-on inactive mode for the remainder of the winter, you might need to reconsider. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, slashing the amount of physical activity you get for a few days can harm your overall health.
Scientists examined regular exercisers who walk more than 10,000 steps per day. That’s the similar of about 30 to 60 minutes spent at the gym plus extra physical activity. Then they told the candidates to cut out any workout and reduce their activity to less then 5,000 steps per day for 5 days. After five days of inactivity, candidates experienced a decrease in blood vessel function.
Specifically, the blood vessels in their lower legs showed a notable reduction in their ability to dilate, which can be a precursor to peripheral artery disease and maybe, coronary artery disease. “We are not very sure why this happened so rapidly, but our results clearly show how vulnerable the vasculature is to a sedentary lifestyle,” says the study coauthor Paul Fadel, PhD. Whether a gym-free week will create havoc on your heart health in the long run is still to be resolved as well as whether – and how quickly – your blood vessels recover back when you return to your normal level of activity.
However, in the meantime, Dr. Fadel recommends incorporating as much activity as you can into your day even if you can’t find time for a full workout. “Doing something is better than doing nothing and trying to maintain some activity is very important” he says. Investing in a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps per day is the key for losing weight. If at the end of the day you have limited steps, a pedometer can keep you motivated to get our and take a walk after dinner instead of sitting on the couch.