Healthy Resolutions Show Benefits Long After New Year's Eve

With a new year comes New Year's resolutions, many of which involve getting healthy in the year ahead. A recent study has shown that by keeping those resolutions people can not only lose the weight they want but also avoid other health issues like diabetes.

With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions, many of which involve getting healthy in the year ahead. A recent study has shown that by keeping those resolutions people can not only lose the weight they want but also avoid other health issues like diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Missouri showed that not only is physical activity important, but also lapsing from a regular exercise routine can cause more harm than just not going to the gym or eating right. A statement on the study noted that taking just 5 days off from exercising requires a concerted effort to get back on track, including taking at least 10,000 steps in a day to avoid any further vascular dysfunction.

For the study, researchers looked at people who walked a high number of steps per day (determined to be at least 10,000 for the purposes of the study), as opposed to a low level steps per day (5000), which the authors said is the national average. In patients who dropped from the higher to the lower level of activity, the authors reported observing decreases in function of the inner lining of blood vessels in the legs.

The authors called the change “quite striking,” and added, “It shows just how susceptible the vascular system is to physical inactivity.”

While inactivity can be dangerous for people looking to avoid gaining weight or developing conditions like diabetes, the authors also said it was possible to avoid those possible negative life events.

“We know the negative consequences from not engaging in physical activity can be reversed,” said Paul Fadel, associate professor of medical pharmacology and physiology. “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 5 days of physical activity causes damage to blood vessels in the legs that can take a prolonged period of time to repair.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that more than 29 million Americans have some form of diabetes and that number is expected to grow exponentially in the future if certain steps are not taken going forward.

“The best treatment is to become more active, and our research lends proof to that concept,” Fadel added. “If you do not realize how harmful sitting around all day and not doing any activity is to your health, this proves it.”

John Thyfault, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, added that educating people in the simple things they can do to stay healthy can go a long way towards keeping otherwise avoided resolutions.

“We need to teach and explain to people about the physiology of their bodies and the physiology of the disease process and help them understand that inactivity plays a foundational role in the disease process,” he said. “Then we give them behavioral tools, like pedometers, to monitor and help them achieve higher physical activity so they start to see and feel health improvements. These studies are proof that we need to get people to understand their activity every day plays a role in their health, and that their health is not simply a matter of body weight and how they look in the mirror.”

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