How two weeks can wreck your health

It can happen in a hurry.

One day, you're enjoying the gentle warmth of May, spending as much time as you can outdoors.

But then June hits -- and with it those nasty, sticky heat waves, all you want to do is shut the windows, seal the doors, and crank up the A/C.

Some folks barely go outside for weeks at a time!

I know it's tempting, especially when the mercury starts rising.

But don't let it happen to you... because the latest research shows how turning into a couch potato for just two weeks can trigger damaging changes inside your body.

And the effects of that damage could last far beyond those two weeks.

In the study, healthy volunteers were told to cut down on their activity for 14 days. They were told to do as little as they could, like driving instead of walking, using elevators instead of stairs and to stay home as much as possible.

They became couch potatoes.

In that short space of time -- just two weeks -- they lost a full pound of lean muscle mass.

In its place, they gained fat -- especially belly fat, which isn't just unsightly.

This is the dangerous fat that can build up around your organs, boosting your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

The folks in the study also saw an overall drop in their fitness levels. When asked to run after two weeks of potatohood, they simply didn't have the same ability or intensity.

There were even changes deep inside the body, on a cellular level, as mitochondrial function dipped.

That's your internal power plant. It's the ability of your cells to make, use, and manage energy.

While the drop was very small, this happened in just two weeks.

Imagine what a longer period of being sedentary could do!

What's especially concerning about the new study is that it was done on younger people who are healthy to begin with.

In older folks, it might happen a lot more quickly... especially if you're already facing certain risks.

Obviously, if you're in the middle of a dangerous heat wave this summer, you should be careful about getting out and getting active. Some days, your best option might really be to sit inside with the air conditioner on.

At the very least, be active indoors. Instead of parking yourself on the sofa, move around the house and maybe get some chores or fix-up projects taken care of.

But on other days, make sure you get up and get active. If the days are a little too warm, consider a stroll in the evenings when it's cooler.