File photo: Researchers examining bones from grave sites across central Europe discovered that people started to become weaker and less active after the emergence of agriculture.

London - If you thought that loafing around on the sofa while consuming junk food was a relatively modern phenomenon, you’d be wrong.

In fact, according to archaeologists, the couch potato lifestyle trend stretches back for more than 7 000 years. Researchers examining bones from grave sites across central Europe discovered that people started to become weaker and less active after the emergence of agriculture.

Comparing the strength of their bones with those of contemporary students from Cambridge University, they found that the earliest male farmers – dating back around 7 300 years – had legs similar to those of cross-country runners. But over the next 3 000 years, as farming contributed to an easier life and humans became further removed from their athletic hunting ancestors, their average mobility dropped to the level of students, who were rated as “sedentary”.

Lead researcher Alison Macintosh, from the department of archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University, said: “My results suggest that following the transition to agriculture in central Europe, we were affected by cultural and technological changes that reduced the need for long-distance travel or heavy physical work.”

She added: “The overall result of this was a reduction in the mobility of the population as a whole, which was accompanied by a reduction in the strength of the limb bones.” - Daily Mail