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Fewer Steps Per Day Send Disease Markers Up
Date:3/18/2008

he normal range (obesity starts at a BMI of 30).

Prior to the study start, the men wore pedometers and averaged 6,203 steps each day. To reduce the amount of steps, the researchers asked the volunteers to take cars on short trips instead of walking or bicycling, and to take elevators instead of stairs. During the study period, the men reduced their daily steps to an average of 1,394 daily steps. After two weeks of reduced daily activity, the amount of insulin circulating in the blood increased by about 60 percent, suggesting that the body was no longer efficiently processing glucose (energy) from food and needed to increase insulin production to metabolize the sugar in food.

The second group included 10 men with an average age of 23.8 years and a BMI of 22.1. At the start of the study, their average daily number of steps were 10,501. After two weeks, they had reduced their average daily steps to 1,344 -- an almost 90 percent reduction in daily activity. In this group, insulin levels also rose by nearly 60 percent after two weeks of inactivity.

In this group, the researchers also measured additional effects and found levels of heart disease risk factors had also increased with reduced activity. For example, triglyceride levels increased and the lack of physical activity was associated with a 7 percent increase in abdominal fat, even though there was no overall weight gain, according to Krogh-Madsen.

"Reduced daily activity can induce metabolic changes, which can be associated with the progression of chronic disorders and premature mortality," the researcher said.

The good news here, deMille added, is that the flip side is also true.

With just a couple of weeks of increased physical activity, you can start to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, even if you don't notice a big difference on the bathroom scale.

"Just get some movement in. Even if it's not what you think you
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