Of course, our center city fitness trainers motivate clients. But they notice that many still tend to skip a workout. Or they neglect to get on the bike. Or they take the elevator just a floor or two.
We always wondered if this has something to do with how our brain functions.
So, this article from The Washington Post by Allyson Chiu intrigued our center city fitness trainers who identified with this quote:
“Our brains are conditioned to choose the easy route.” -Matthieu Boisgontier Neurological Researcher
Two main things caught their attention:
According to the World Health Organization, more than 25% of all adults regularly lack enough activity. That equals 1.4 billion people. We spend time and money promoting health. But it may not make much difference.
Second, Chiu cited a new study by Matthieu Boisgontier and Boris Cheval. They just published it in Neuropsycholgia, a peer-reviewed journal. The study suggests that our brains encourage us to avoid exercise.
The researchers used a small sample of young adults. They monitored them with an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine. Then subjects moved a computerized avatar towards physical activity. Or they moved the avatar away from sedentary activity.
The subjects did or wanted to exercise. So, they showed faster reactions when they moved toward physical activity images.
But at the same time, as reactions improved, the brain became much more active. It worked harder. Why? To sort of apply a brake. And to ward off the temptation to exercise. The brain wants to conserve energy.
Boisgontier and Cheval propose that we have the best intentions. But note that:
“if your system is minimizing your energetic cost, your intention will not be implemented.”
They propose that it’s a hereditary biological response. We needed to conserve energy to survive. And that impulse stayed with us.
Sometimes, our center city fitness trainers grab the elevator to the fourth-floor studio, when they know they should walk.
So, the next time that you plan to put off exercise, be easier on yourself. Avoiding exercise is natural. Every time we do exercise, we overcome our hardwired desire for inertia. Give yourself some credit.
Three tips from our fitness and physical therapy teams:
- Create a set time for exercise – consistency counts.
- Have aerobic and strength training sessions – you need both.
- Work from an exercise program – get results faster.