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Your Vascular Health Drops After Just a Few Days of Limited Physical Activity

First Posted: Dec 31, 2014 09:54 AM EST
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When it comes to vascular health, physical activity is important. Scientists have found the reducing physical activity for even just a few days leads to decreases in the function of the inner lining of blood vessels in the legs of young, healthy subjects, which can cause vascular dysfunction that can have prolonged effects.

"We know the negative consequences from not engaging in physical activity can be reversed," said Paul Fadel, one of the researchers, in a news release. "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. 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. Inactivity is typically going to lead to people being overweight and obese. The next step after that is insulin resistance which leads to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

In other words, being active is important. The scientists found that transitioning from high physical activity-10,000 or more steps per day-to  low physical activity-less than 5,000 steps per day-can decrease the function of the inner lining of the blood vessels in the legs.

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

Counting steps and daily physical activity is actually different from defined exercise, such as working out at the gym. While there are benefits to defined exercise, the research is based on what amounts to 30 minutes of moderate activity per day. This, in particular, highlights the importance of  continuing to be active during daily life.

The findings are published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports &Exercise.

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