Humans are programmed to avoid movement.
In multiple studies across the world, only 5% of people have been shown to take the stairs when there is a choice of stairs and escalators.
Since our days as hunter gatherers we have been hardwired to preserve energy. It wouldn’t have made sense back then for us to run around and waste energy when food was sparse.
I’m telling you this for three reasons:
Reason 1: Hopefully you won’t be too hard on yourself for not naturally wanting to exercise. The people who you know that find it easy to exercise regularly, have most likely managed to nurture some intrinsic motivators.
Basically they have been doing it long enough for their bodies to realise all the great things that it gets from doing exercise. Such as:
- Improved mood
- Increased energy levels
- Better sleep
…to name just a few.
When this happens the body overrules the old programming of preserving energy and starts to crave movement more often.
If you have not reached the point where your body is craving exercise regularly and you are more in the ‘kick back and relax’ club, don’t be too hard on yourself, it is perfectly natural, and it’s important to know that it’s not a life sentence. You can do lots of things to make you more motivated to move more.
Reason 2: The way our world has evolved over the past 100 years has fed nicely into the deep programming of being resistant to exercise and movement. If you think about it, in almost every area of our lives there has been something invented to make things that bit easier for us. So a natural inclination to move less, plus an environment that support and encourages it has led to a tsunami of inactivity.
Here is a quick list of things I can think of just off the top of my head that have led to us moving less each and every day.
Transport: We barely need to walk anywhere now. Most of us drive, and if not, there are always taxis and public transport. Many of us from the minute we pass our driving test barely walk anywhere. We have lost the desire to go anywhere on foot these days.
Fast Food outlets: We no longer need to even expend the energy required to make food. We have lost the energy that we burn off standing up and cutting veg and preparing food. We shop for food much less frequently now because we eat out more often. Even when we do shop it is often in one big store where we park our car outside – you very rarely see anyone walking up the street with their shopping.
Unbelievably over the past few years we have taken things a step further still, where we no longer need to even get into our car and get a takeaway. If you go to a restaurant now it seems that the takeaway section is busier than the sit-in. People can’t be bothered getting out of their house now to get their Mcdonalds!!
Electric Bikes & Scooters: I am not against electric bikes per se. I think they can be great for anyone who may need a little assistance on their cycles. I know I would have loved one back in the days when I used to go on cycling holidays with my friend who was an Ironman and much fitter than me on the bike.
I do have some concerns however that some people are using them in a way to minimise the energy they expend. Which is the last thing we need.
And don’t get me started on kids on electric scooters who are getting from A to B without having to muster an ounce of effort!
Escalators, stairs and lifts: For less abled people these things can be a god send, but for the rest of us they should be something we are looking to avoid like the plague. I was always shocked when I saw the number of people who used to take the lift to the gym that I used to work in. That gym was on the third floor of an office building which made no sense to me, especially to those who came in and went on a cardio machine!
Virtual working: More and more people are working from home and have lost a lot of inconsequential movement that they used to have in their working day. This doesn’t sound that important. However, if you eat the same food as you always did but are now working from home you are more likely to gain weight.
For the ones who are back in the office, we have had many clients tell us how they now don’t even get up out of their desks to go and speak to a colleague now, they just drop them an email!
Machines & Gadgets: If there is a job needing done now, chances are there has been a machine developed to help you use as little energy as possible. Again, great for efficiency, but not great for energy expenditure.
Reason 3: You need to become a movement opportunist!
So with all these odds stacked against us from being active, it becomes more and more important to become a movement opportunist.
You need to try and etch out some movement in your day, any way that you possibly can. Seek out excuses to move more. Alongside this, try and pay attention to the times that you are active and how your body feels.
If you recognise the benefits that you feel your body will learn this and gradually start to shift to intrinsic motivation faster.
I hope this has got you thinking, and perhaps given you some motivation now that you know you are not ‘useless’ or ‘unusual’ after all, just because you find it easier to skip workouts than get them done.
Hopefully being armed with this knowledge will help you establish a routine that encourages more movement each day for you.
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