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Could a two week holiday *really* be bad for you?

Prima logo Prima 4 days ago Jenny Cook

Two weeks of inactivity is bad for your health, says study – but we're not convinced © stock_colors / Getty Two weeks of inactivity is bad for your health, says study – but we're not convinced If you're one of the 44% of Britons who claim to suffer from long-term stress, the idea of taking a step back to lie on a beach for two weeks probably sounds like music to your ears. However, new research claims that just a fortnight of inactivity can be bad for our health and, to be quite frank, we're not too sure what to make of it. 

Can taking time out really be that bad for you?

The Liverpool University study examined 28 fit, young adults with an average age of 25 to see what happened to their bodies when activity levels were drastically reduced. Participants were asked to cut their physical movement by 80% – from the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day to just 1,500. 

Over the course of 14 days, each individual had lost roughly a third of a kilo of lean muscle mass while simultaneously seeing their waistline expand by almost half an inch (1cm). There was also some indication of an increase in bad cholesterol and a decline in cardio-respiratory fitness levels. Lead researcher Dr Dan Cuthbertson described the study's take-home message as twofold.

'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.'

He added:'It does appear that there is something in this idea of 10,000 steps a day being good for you. People have become obsessed with 10,000 steps a day and this research shows it's a good thing.' 

The importance of exercise

At a time when the vast majority of UK adults fail to meet the required 150 minutes of activity a week, the message that we need to be moving more is still very important. Steven Ward, chief executive of fitness organisation ukactive, described physical inactivity as 'society's silent killer'. He told The Telegraph:

'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 ukactive 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.'

© Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) But, hang on a minute, aren't holidays supposed to be a time for chilling out and giving yourself a chance to recuperate? Researchers from Durham University found that over two thirds (68%) of people around the would like more rest, concluding that people who had less rest reported lower overall wellbeing. With this in mind, psychologist and Healthspan wellness expert Dr Meg Arroll says that we should take the demands of daily life seriously, and understand the importance of rest days.

'Highly demanding jobs and home lives can lead to stress anxiety and eventually, burnout. Burnout syndrome results in physical and mental health issues such as fatigue, anxiety and depression. Burnout can also affect people's ability to work and engage in social and recreational activities that, in turn, are important for well-being and satisfaction with life.' 

It's about balance

This study clearly highlights the benefits of sticking to a regular exercise routine, but that in no way means that you should be spending the entirety of your well-earned holiday in the hotel gym. Dr Arroll adds:

'It is important to build periods of rest into our daily lives. This doesn't mean sleeping or napping necessarily, but rather activities that allow us to 'switch off' from the stresses of life such as reading, listening to music or spending time in nature.'

Make the most of your break by swapping out your sun lounger for a swim in the sea a couple of times a day, or try and head out for an evening stroll each night before dinner.

Such low intensity steady state (LISS) exercises provide an effective, gentler form of activity to supplement your break from the everyday challenges of work, encouraging relaxation without promoting sedentary habits.

Related: These are the travel destinations internet foodies can't get enough of

(Provided by Hello Giggles)

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