Aim for over 10,000 steps a day even on holiday, researchers advise

Have you ever wondered what actually happens to your body on that lazy fortnight away from your usual routine? Now researchers from the University of Liverpool are here to tell us. You might want to look away now. 

By now you will have gathered that sitting down in the office all day is not good for you. Perhaps you've got a decent exercise regime going to make up for all of those sitting hours. But what happens when you put your regime on hold?

Liverpool University researchers took 28 fit, young adults with an average age of 25. Then they asked them to reduce their activity levels by 80%, from an average of 10,000 daily steps to just 1,500.

By the end of the two weeks the participants had each lost a third of a kilo of lean muscle, their waistlines expanded by half an inch and they all experienced an increase in liver fat and bad cholesterol. Overall cardio fitness also dropped.

  • thicker waists
  • muscle loss
  • fattier livers
  • higher cholesterol
  • fitness level drop.

And that wasn't all. When they then resumed their usual fitness regimes, it took longer than two weeks to get back to their original shapes.

Lead researcher Dr. Dan Cuthbertson said:"The take-home message is two-fold. If you do formal exercise, it may not be enough and keeping active as part of your daily life is important.

"And for those who don't exercise, avoiding prolonged sitting and increasing your daily step counts has clear health benefits.

"It does appear that there is something in this idea of 10,000 steps a day being good for you."

Dr. Cuthbertson believes the key to reducing disease and health complications is regular day-to-day physical activity. People must avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said those who fail to exercise enough are almost certain to encounter ill health in later life.

Steven Ward, chief executive of the fitness organisation UK Active, described physical inactivity as society's 'silent killer'.

He added: “That’s why it’s so important for us to build movement into all aspects of our lives – commuting, working and at play – to reap the myriad benefits of an active lifestyle.

“We know from our own UK Active research that lazy summer holidays wreak havoc on our children’s health, so it’s vital that families stay active together at this time of year to ward off unhealthy habits.”

The Liverpool University study is a clear indicator that changes occur in the body after just two weeks of inactivity. Employers must start asking what effect this is having on their workforce over months, years, even decades of sedentary office life.

It is within our power as employers to do something about it. Start taking action to develop an active working culture at your office.

We have developed a range of products and services to help with a transition to active working, from sit-stand desks to expert consulting.

Visit our active working page for more tips on how to implement an active working culture >