Ever gone back to working out after a nice long vacation and felt like you were starting from scratch? A new study says just two weeks of inactivity—for example sun lounging and cocktail sipping—can have serious repercussions for your health.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool enlisted 28 participants with an average age of 25, all of whom were in good physical shape. Prior to the experiment they checked each person’s fitness levels, muscle mass and body fat percentage. They then asked them to wear an activity tracking armband and reduce their movement from 10,000 to 1,500 steps per day for a period of two weeks. Participants also kept a food diary to ensure their dietary habits remained consistent throughout the study.
Their active time dropped from 161 minutes to just 36, and their sedentary time increased by 129. This led to a decline in muscle mass and an increase in body fat, the majority of which appeared to accumulate around their mid section, an area associated with risk of diabetes and other diseases.
When their fitness abilities was retested, cardio-respiratory levels had also decreased and participants could no longer run at the same speed or cover the same distance as before their two weeks of laziness.
Needless to say relaxing on a beach has other health benefits, like reducing stress, but scheduling a hiking excursion or two during your next vacation couldn’t hurt.