Not exercising for two weeks could lead to type 2 diabetes in young and healthy people, research has suggested.
Findings from a recent study at the University of Liverpool have caused experts to urge people to avoid sitting for long periods of time in a bid to retain good health.
The team found being inactive for just a fortnight could also increase the risk of heart disease and early death.
The trial involved 28 healthy and active individuals who were aged 25 years, on average, and whose Body Mass Index (BMI) was 25kg.
They all wore a wore an armband device which tracked their physical activity, and regular health checks were carried out to measure their fat, muscle mass and how quickly their bodies recovered from exercise.
The participants, who had been used to walking 10,000 steps a day, were asked to reduce their step count by 80 per cent to just 1,500 a day.
The findings showed reducing the step count cut the daily average of exercise from 161 minutes to just 36 minutes. Sedentary time was increased by an average of 129 minutes.
Changes in the body, following the reduction of exercise, included loss of skeletal muscle mass and an increase in total body fat, mainly around the central part of the body which is a major risk factor for chronic diseases.
Dr Dan Cuthbertso, from the University’s Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease who led the research, said: “In a group of physically active, healthy young individuals that met the recommended physical activity guidelines, just 14 days of increased sedentary behaviour resulted in small but significant reductions in fitness that were accompanied by reductions in muscle mass and increases in body fat.
“Such changes can lead to chronic metabolic disease and premature mortality. The results emphasise the importance of remaining physically active, and highlight the dangerous consequences of continuous sedentary behaviour.
“Our day-to-day physical activity is key to abstaining from disease and health complications. People must avoid sitting for long periods of time.”
The findings were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto.

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