We all get busy or go on holiday. Maybe scary weather conditions keep you home. Maybe we just get lazy. But here's what you need to know about skipping the gym, even for a short time. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers examined regular exercisers who took 10,000 steps a day (the equivalent of 30 to 60 minutes at the gym plus extra physical activity). They asked the participants to cut their exercise to 5,000 steps a day for 5 days. After the 5 days, the participants experienced a decrease in their blood vessel function, especially with those in the lower legs showing a reduction in their ability to dilate which can be a precursor to peripheral artery disease and, possibly, coronary artery disease. "We're not sure why this occurred so rapidly, but our results clearly show how vulnerable the vasculature is to a sedentary lifestyle," says study coauthor Paul Fadel, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Missouri. It has not been determined if a week without the gym will have a long term effect on your heart nor is it clear how long it will take your blood vessels to bounce back to their regular levels. Even if you can't make it to the gym, Fadel recommends working activity into your day wherever you can. He also suggests getting a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day. By keeping count, the pedometer may be what you need for motivation! What's the take away lesson here? If you can't get to the gym, you best just get moving. Being sedentary is clearly not a good call.