Skipping exercise days can harm blood vessels

More research from the University of Missouri-Columbia proves that daily exercise is the best prescription for heart health.

The study found that skipping physical activity for five days led to decreased function of the inner lining of blood vessels - which can cause vascular dysfunction if not corrected.

What's more, researchers found that a long period of inactivity requires more than one day of exercise or movement to get back on track.

"There is much data to indicate that at any stage of a disease, and at any time in your life, you can get active and prolong your life," said Paul Fadel, associate professor of medical pharmacology and physiology. "However, we found that skipping just five days of physical activity causes damage to blood vessels in the legs that can take a prolonged period of time to repair."

A slippery slope to diabetes

Inactivity, Fadel stressed, eventually leads to obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The study lends proof to the idea that becoming active is your best defense against these harmful conditions, he said.

The study calculated how the body's blood vessels are affected when a person goes from a high level of physical activity (10,000 or more steps per day) to a low level of activity (5,000 steps per day).

"The impairment we saw in just five days was quite striking," Fadel said. "It shows just how susceptible the vascular system is to physical inactivity."

In addition to vascular complications, glycemic control and insulin sensitivity were also altered after reduced periods of physical activity.

"If you do not realize how harmful sitting around all day and not doing any activity is to your health, this proves it," Fadel concluded.

The study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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