Just as important, the trial participants who exhibited the greatest decline in physical status during inactivity benefited the most from exercise training, according to the researchers.
These findings linking the ability of exercise training to reverse the negative effects of inactivity can be attributed to the exercise alone, because the participants did not alter their diets during the trial, the researchers said.
"Continuing to lead an inactive lifestyle leads to a gradual decline in many important markers for cardiovascular health," said Jennifer Robbins, an exercise physiologist at Duke, who presented the results of the study June 2, 2006, at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Denver.
"The good news is that a small amount of physical activity can make a big difference in reducing the risks for developing such conditions as heart disease, stroke or diabetes," she said. "Our findings demonstrate that while the cost of choosing a sedentary lifestyle can be high, switching to an active way of life can be beneficial at any time."
The current study stemmed from a recently completed trial known as STRRIDE (Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise). The trial, funded by a $4.3 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, investigated the effects of exercise on sedentary overweight adults at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, or both.
The STRRIDE trial, in which the intervention ran for six months, randomly assigned 334 participants into three different exercise groups and one contr
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center