Everyone could use a little R&R now and then, but according to research, that rest and relaxation should still include some activity or you could suffer health consequences in as few as 14 days. A study of young, healthy adults (average age: 25 years and averaging 10,000 steps worth of physical activity daily) found that switching from moderate-to-vigorous activity (160 minutes per day) to little-to-no activity (36 minutes per day) for only two weeks increased body fat, decreased skeletal muscle mass and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness.
Over time, these types of changes are exactly the type that elevate the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. And unfortunately, too many people are closer to achieving little-to-no daily activity, rather than the moderate-to-vigorous variety.
Anyone who's struggled with their weight – and many others who haven't – appreciate that once you develop unhealthy habits, they're tough to break. And those habits can start to take root after only one meal, one couch potato day, etc. It doesn't mean we don't all deserve a break sometimes; that's a healthy habit. But with each passing day, it can get a little easier – and a little easier – to push off the return to your fitness or diet routine for one more day. As the research suggests, two weeks might be the limit before your health starts to be compromised. Psychologically, it might be a whole lot sooner.