What Will Happen To The Body If You Spend Your Holidays On The Couch

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What Will Happen To The Body If You Spend Your Holidays On The Couch
What Will Happen To The Body If You Spend Your Holidays On The Couch

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What will happen to the body if you spend your holidays on the couch

In early January, the Russians rest for more than a week. Many will spend this weekend, albeit not literally on the couch, but passively, finishing off supplies of holiday dishes. Even such a short period of a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for your health. We tell you what happens in the body when we severely limit physical activity for just one or two weeks.

What will happen to the body if you spend your holidays on the couch
What will happen to the body if you spend your holidays on the couch

Photo: pixabay.com /

In early January, the Russians rest for more than a week. Many will spend this weekend, albeit not literally on the couch, but passively, finishing off supplies of holiday dishes. Even such a short period of a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for your health. We tell you what happens in the body when we severely limit physical activity for just one or two weeks.

It is known that under the influence of a sedentary lifestyle, changes occur in the body, which over time can lead to the development of diabetes mellitus, heart disease and other pathologies. But how far can they go with a short-term, acute curtailment of activity? Scientists have conducted several studies that may at least partially explain this.

What happens if you just move less

In 2018, scientists from the University of Liverpool published data from a study in which they observed young, healthy and active people. At the time of the experiment, participants who had previously taken at least 10,000 steps per day were asked to reduce activity by about 80%, to 1,500 steps. As a result, the sitting time for each of them increased by 3 hours and 30 minutes a day.

At the end of the experiment, the researchers found that after two weeks of forced "downtime", muscle mass in young people decreased by about 300 grams. But more worrisome is the emergence of risk factors for the development of diabetes and heart disease. Scientists found that participants:

Decreased tissue sensitivity to insulin. It is the most important marker of diabetes. In this case, he demonstrates that a short-term decrease in activity is the first step towards illness.

  • The amount of fat in the body has increased, including in the liver. The numbers were small, but by definition, significant.
  • The level of "bad cholesterol" (low density lipoproteins) in the blood increased by an average of 0.3 millimoles per liter (about 10% of the norm). This indicator is a marker of the risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system.
  • Decreased cardiorespiratory endurance, that is, the heart and lungs have become worse at delivering oxygen to the muscles.

After the restoration of the previous activity, all indicators returned to normal. But the study authors noted that the process took more than two weeks.

What happens if you move a little and eat a lot

In the study described above, participants ate about the same amount as before the experiment. But other scientific papers tell about what will happen if "make the task more difficult."

In 2015, Danish scientists from the Center for Inflammation and Metabolism at Copenhagen University decided to see how the body of young healthy people would react, if not only to limit their mobility, but also to overfeed. Study participants were given food that contained 50% more calories than their regular diet.

By the end of the experiment, all study participants had increased weight (by about 1.6 kilograms) and body fat (from 29 to 43 cubic centimeters). Changes in the levels of the hormones leptin and adiponectin indicated initial metabolic changes that are associated with obesity.

The sensitivity of the tissues of the experiment participants to insulin decreased by an average of 44%. When limiting activity without overfeeding, this figure was 17%, as shown by a study previously conducted by the same group of scientists. That is, adding overfeeding to immobility has a strong effect on diabetes risk.

Two weeks after the end of the study, when the former participants began to choose their own food and activity regime on their own, the tissue sensitivity to insulin returned to normal. But the amount of internal fat remained increased. In their findings, the scientists emphasized that the initial changes that lead to diabetes may be a direct consequence of decreased activity and overeating.

In this study, all pathological changes in the participants did not appear earlier than 3 days later. Probably, we can say that a healthy person has a margin of safety, which allows him "with impunity" to completely relax and eat more than usual during the holiday and even the next day. But after that, it's better to tone yourself up again.

What happens if you move a little and eat a lot, but do exercises

Other research shows that the harm from immobility and overeating can be largely offset by exercise. It was conducted by scientists from the British University of Bath.

In the experiment, 26 people between the ages of 18 and 32 also overeat and exercise less. The participants were divided into two groups: half of them worked for 45 minutes on a treadmill daily, and the other half did not exercise. At the same time, people from the first group received an "additional ration", which covered energy expenditures from classes.

The participants were followed for one week. Overeating was not in vain for any of them, but in the group doing the exercises at the end of the experiment, the indicators were better. Its participants gained less weight, their waist circumference did not increase so much, systolic blood pressure "jumped" less.

It is important that completely passive people in just a week doubled the concentration of insulin in the glucose tolerance test (this is also a marker of diabetes risk). This indicator did not change for the participants who were engaged on the treadmill. Exercise prevents the initial pathological changes that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

What happens if you move a little in old age

Loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) is one of the most important problems associated with aging. A group of British scientists have learned what happens to the muscles of healthy older people with short-term activity restrictions.

Study participants - their average age was 72 years - decreased physical activity by 76% for two weeks. When the experiment ended, the scientists found that the muscle mass of the subjects' legs decreased by almost 4%, and the synthesis of new muscle fibers was reduced by 26%. Scientists emphasized that older people recover much more slowly than younger people, even with heavy strength training. Therefore, even short breaks in activity are dangerous for older people.

In addition, after two weeks, the researchers found that the participants in the study showed a decrease in tissue sensitivity to insulin and an increase in insulin levels - markers of an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

There are factors that make short-term activity restriction even more dangerous. Canadian scientists have tested how the body reacts to physical inactivity in older people who are overweight and prediabetes. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels rise periodically, but there is no clinical picture of diabetes mellitus.

After two weeks of sedentary life, all participants in the study had a dramatic decrease in muscle fiber synthesis. They had increased blood sugar and insulin levels, which were slightly increased before the experiment. For two weeks of recovery after the experiment, these indicators did not return to their previous level.

You just need to move

Short periods of sedentary life are not uncommon. Changes that we may overlook can have significant negative health effects. Weight gain and body fat gain, the emergence of risk markers for diabetes and heart disease, and a decrease in muscle mass may become evident within a week. But the body's recovery after short "gaps" in activity does not always go quickly and smoothly.

Scientists believe that doctors and health professionals should pay more attention to the harms of short-term periods of reduced physical activity. In their opinion, this information should be included in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, people should be encouraged to move in any way.

To maintain health, adults should devote 150 minutes a week to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes to vigorous exercise, according to current World Health Organization guidelines. But for those who, for whatever reason, do not do this, there is an alternative. Any movement during the day "counts". This could be a 10-minute walk during a break from work, getting up from a desk and warming up every hour, using the stairs instead of the elevator, limiting car use, and so on. This concept is gaining increasing acceptance, appearing in 2018 in the American Physical Activity Guidelines.

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