We all know that exercise helps you slim down and stay healthy. But when you stop moving around as much, such as during a stressful work period, you don’t suddenly gain 100 pounds. So scientists decided to try and learn the immediate effects of too much rest – and how those tie in to the grander scheme of prolonged poor health.

A new study released last month in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal does exactly that. The results shows that reduced activity and prolonged inactivity directly correlate to potentially fatal ailments like heart failure and type 2 diabetes. Researchers suspected, and confirmed, that it all related to blood sugar.

In an effort to test how inactivity directly relates to a person’s health, they had a group wear glucose monitors and pedometers. At first the test subjects just went about their daily routines while scientists gathered information. Then the candidates were tasked with cutting their activity by half – while otherwise eating the same foods and following the same routines as they’d done for the previous three days.

Normally, people are meant to cover about 5 miles per day with their daily routines, reports the New York Times in an article about this recent report. That’s approximately 10,000 steps. But most modern adults use less than half, or 5,000. The test subjects here spent an average of 4,300 steps per day while making an effort to be less active than usual.

As scientists suspected, the group’s blood sugar levels spiked dramatically following meals. That’s because they were not exerting the exercise that would burn the body’s energy and bring the levels back to a normal rate. For short periods, this kind of habitual inactivity isn’t going to cause an immediate threat to anyone’s health. However, people who are perpetually sedentary or on bed rest will have a higher risk of heart failure or contracting type 2 diabetes, which could lead to weight gain, health complications and even a shortened lifespan.

To ensure you maintain a healthy level of activity, visit Pivotal Fitness’ local Greenville gym on a regular basis.