Using the elevator instead of the stairs could be a very bad decision for your body, suggests a new study which found direct evidence that lack of daily physical activity is an actual cause of many of the risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study also found that it only takes about two weeks of reduced activity for individuals to start noticing the effects.
"Our findings indicated that if there is a lack of normal physical activity, a person greatly increases the chances of developing a chronic disease," said Frank Booth, professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen conducted two different studies. The first study asked participants to reduce the amount of steps they took per day from 6,000 to 1,400 for three weeks.
They were instructed to use motorized transportation such as a car or elevator instead of walking or taking the stairs, in every situation possible.
In the second study, researchers asked participants who were more active, averaging 10,000 steps per day, to reduce their activity to 1,400 steps per day for two weeks.
At the conclusion of both studies, participants were administered a glucose tolerance test or a fat tolerance test, or both. These tests measure how fast the body is able to clear glucose or fat from the blood stream.
The research team found that after two weeks of no exercise and very little activity, participants had much higher levels of glucose and fat and took a much longer time to clear the substances from their blood streams than before.
This means that the longer it takes the body to clear the blood stream of the substances, the higher the likelihood that a person will develop diabetes or other chronic diseases.
"We used to think that it is healthy to be physically active, but this study shows that it is dangerous to be inactive for just a couple of weeks," said Bente Klarlund Pedersen, lead author of the study and professor of internal medicine and director of Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism at the University of Copenhagen.
"After 14 days of reduced stepping, subjects experienced accumulation of the dangerous abdominal fat, while also developing elevated blood-lipids, a sign of -pre-diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you choose the passive mode of transport and abstain from exercise, than your risk of chronic disease is likely to increase markedly," Pedersen added.
It was also found that the total skeletal and muscle mass in the body decreased when the lack of activity decreased.
Booth said that further studies are required to help answer more questions about the detrimental effects of long-term physical inactivity.
The study is being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week.