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Taking a short break from an active lifestyle may do more harm than most people might think, a new study warns.

Just two weeks of sedentary behavior can cause healthy, young people to start losing muscle and develop fat around their organs. And this can increase their risk for conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes that could eventually lead to a premature death, British researchers report.

“What’s alarming about this study is that it was done in healthy volunteers. They were not patients or overweight or had risks for type 2 diabetes,” said lead researcher Kelly Bowden-Davies, from the Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease at the University of Liverpool.

“In 14 days we see small, but significant, changes in markers that predispose people to risk,” she said.

In the study, people were asked to limit their physical activity for two weeks. This included taking the elevator instead of the stairs, taking a bus instead of walking and staying at home more than usual, Bowden-Davies said.

After two weeks of a sedentary life, participants lost nearly a pound of lean muscle mass and gained body fat. The increase in body fat tended to be in the belly, a major risk factor for developing chronic diseases.

In addition, fitness levels dropped sharply, and participants were not able to run for as long or at the same intensity as they had before, the researchers found.

Mitochondrial function, which is the ability of cells to regulate energy, also dropped, but the change was not statistically significant, the study authors noted.

“Globally, people are becoming more and more inactive due to technology, public transport, escalators and elevators, and machines that do what we used to do day to day,” Bowden-Davies said.

The good news is that after going back to an active lifestyle, all these changes were reversed and returned to normal within two weeks, she said.

“The negative effect of an inactive lifestyle can be reversed when we become…



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