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Exercise Can Reverse Effects of Inactivity

Few things can be as hazardous to a person's health as physical inactivity, which has been linked to numerous diseases and can reduce one's lifespan by several years. A recent study shows that even for people who have been inactive for prolonged amounts of time, a few months of regular exercise can reverse many of the negative effects of inactivity.

In the study, 53 overweight, middle-aged people who had been sedentary for the previous six months were asked to participate in a six-month exercise program.

At the start of the trial, at the end of the sedentary period and again at the end of the exercise program, the researchers measured 17 different factors that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including waist size, body mass index, cholesterol levels, the presence of visceral fat, and sensitivity to insulin. As could be expected, waist sizes expanded, visceral fat levels increased considerably, and more signs of metabolic syndrome appeared during the six months the people were inactive. In the six months of exercise that followed, however, a dramatic turnaround ensued, as 13 of the 17 factors measured at the start of the study either reverted completely to baseline or improved beyond their baseline levels.

So, what are you waiting for? It's time to get off the couch, get on your feet, and start exercising – today! To learn more about the numerous health benefits associated with physical activity, visit


Robbins JL, Slentz CA, Houmard JA, et al. Exercise training to reverse the detrimental effects of physical inactivity on cardiovascular risk. Abstract #2348. Presented at the 53rd annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Denver, Colo., June 2, 2006.