In a new study, researchers have tried to tease out the precise role of inactivity in causing ill health.
People who are inactive can eat poorly, be obese, smoke and have other lifestyle issues.
The researchers from the University of Missouri in the US devised a novel approach – they stopped a group of very active people from exercising as usual.
They got them to cut the number of steps they took each day by at least half and the question the researchers asked was will this physical laziness stop the body from being able to control blood sugar – the key disease-inducing factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Volunteers were fitted with glucose measuring devices so that their blood sugar could be checked continuously through 24 hours.
They were asked to move about as little as possible but eat normally, the Mirror reported.
To examine their basic blood sugar control, these healthy people were told they could walk and exercise as normal for three days.
During these three days their blood sugar didn’t spike at all after eating, a sign that they had perfect control over their blood sugar and they were ideally sensitive to insulin.
For the second part of the experiment, the volunteers became virtually sedentary and the time spent exercising fell to about three minutes.
The researchers found that during those three inactive days, blood glucose levels spiked after every meal with the peaks being 25% higher than during active days.
In other words, blood sugar went more and more out of control, the longer the subjects remained inactive, but if being inactive is your way of life, this experiment shows that the knock-on effect is your insulin loses its effect and you’re on the slippery slope to ill health.