A new University of Missouri study indicates that the negative effects of skipping exercise can occur in a short period.
The researchers found that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle can quickly lead to symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease which affects at least 75 percent of obese people.
“We found that the sudden cessation of daily exercise plans dramatically activates specific precursors known to promote nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Jamal Ibdah, lead researcher. “This study has important implications for obese humans who continually stop and start exercise programs. Our findings strongly suggest that a sudden transition to a sedentary lifestyle increases susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.”
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a reversible condition that causes fat to accumulate in liver cells of obese people. As Westernized societies are experiencing a weight gain epidemic, the prevalence of the disease is growing, Ibdah said.
In the study, researchers gave obese rats access to voluntary running wheels for 16 weeks. Scientists then locked the wheels, and transitioned the animals to a sedentary condition. After 173 hours, or about seven days, the rats began showing signs of factors responsible for promoting fatty liver disease. In the animals tested immediately at the end of 16 weeks of voluntary running, there were no signs of fatty liver disease.
“Physical activity prevented fatty liver disease by 100 percent in an animal model of fatty liver disease,” said Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and the MU School of Medicine and a research investigator in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. “In contrast, 100 percent of the group that did not have physical activity had fatty liver disease. This is a remarkable event. It is rare in medicine for any treatment to prevent any disease by 100 percent.”