The struggle to exercise is real, and new research shows that it could be the fault of your brain. This may come as good news to some. It means you now have a legitimate reason for your previous lack of physical activity.
You can’t let your mind keep holding you back, however. The American Heart Association says that you’re supposed to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. This would only be 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
Although the recommended amount of physical activity isn’t too time-consuming, many people still don’t reach the goal. The reason behind it is stunning, as scientists have proven it has to do with your mind.
Why Your Brain Doesn’t Want You to Exercise
This scientific conclusion was determined by a researcher named Matthieu Boisgontier, Ph.D., from the University of British Columbia. In the journal titled Neuropsychologia, he explained why your mind doesn’t want you to exercise.
He monitored the brain activity of 29 people as they looked at images of physical activity or inactivity. Additionally, he also observed them move avatars on a screen toward the same images.
The participants of this study had to move their avatars as quickly as possible from one image to another. When they were directed to move their avatar away from the active photos and toward the inactive photos, then, they were directed to do the opposite.
Boisgontier discovered that the participants used more mental activity to move away from the images that showed inactivity. This was further confirmed when they were able to move more quickly toward the images that showed physical activity.
Basically, the research showed that your mind is naturally inclined to avoid physical activity.
Why Exercise Is Essential
You know that physical activity is good for you, but it’s important to know why. Without the facts, it’ll be even harder to get yourself motivated.
1 – It Helps You Reach a Healthy Weight and Feel Better Overall
Most people know that exercise can help you reach a healthy weight, so it’ll make you look and feel better. Along with that, your confidence and self-esteem will improve.
By reaching a healthy weight, you’ll notice that you don’t feel winded when walking through a store. Household chores will become easier, too, as you can move more quickly and for longer periods.
2 – Physical Activity Boosts Your Mood, Aids in Depression, and Helps You Sleep
Physical activity can also boost your mood. If you’re had a rough day, physical activity of any kind will help clear your mind. Not only that, but it’ll release chemicals that make you feel relaxed and happier.
You may also notice a decrease in depression and anxiety. Regular physical activity can help you sleep better at night, too, which can further improve your mood, concentration, and productivity.
3 – It Helps Prevent Chronic Illness
Regular physical activity can also help prevent chronic illness, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. It aids in regulating your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. With the two of these regulations, your blood will flow more regularly, and any plaque buildup in your arteries will be reduced.
Other health problems that regular physical activity can help prevent include cancer and type II diabetes. It’s also helpful when it comes to delivering oxygen and vital nutrients throughout your body. This will help your cardiovascular system and give you more energy each day.
Now that you know why physical activity is so important, you have to figure out how to do it. As the research mentioned before shows, it is natural to want to avoid physical activity. There are ways around that urge, however.
What You Can Do to Make Your Brain Want You to Exercise
Even though we are hard-wired to be lazy and avoid exercise, you can still train your mind to enjoy it. The trick is to make the physical activity fun. You can do this by finding a few types of activity that makes your heart race and that you enjoy.
Once you find the activities you enjoy and make your heart race, do them regularly. You’ll want to switch it up sometimes, so you don’t get bored or burnt out. By rotating through a few activities, you’ll keep your mind engaged and interested.
If you like to walk, make sure to set aside time to walk each day. You can switch up the location, but a brisk walk around your neighborhood is possible daily.
Another idea is to pair walking with another activity such as golf or hiking basic trails. This will give your body other types of movement along with the walking that you enjoy.
On days you didn’t find time or motivation to get physical activity, you can easily make up for it. While watching your favorite show or listening to a podcast, do jumping jacks or jog in place.
Another idea is to take a walk during your lunch break at work or take stairs instead of the elevator. At the grocery store, park toward the back of the parking lot and walk quickly to the store. Making many small choices like this during the day will add up to quite a bit of physical activity.
To do any of this, you have to work hard and be determined. Remember, your mind doesn’t want you to exercise, so every excuse not to will pop into your head.
Resist against those excuses and get moving, and before you know it, the excuses won’t come to mind as often.
The Excuses You May Come Up with and How to Get Past Them
1 – Not Enough Time
Life is busy with jobs, friends, family, home life, appointments, leisure, and anything else that takes up your time. It can be easy to eliminate physical activity since it’s the thing your mind doesn’t want you to do anyway. This can easily be overcome, however.
You only need 30 minutes of physical activity each day, so think of ways to work in a few minutes every hour. As mentioned before, you can choose to take the stairs or park in the back of a parking lot. You can also do easy exercises while you wait for the water to boil in the kitchen.
Another easy way to make time for physical activity is by working harder on household chores. Move quickly and effectively so that your heart rate goes up. One other way to make time is by finding leisurely activities you enjoy that get your heart beating faster.
2 – You Don’t Enjoy It
If you’re getting bored while exercising, then you’re not doing the right activity. Everyone is different, so you have to find which type of physical activity you enjoy.
Some of the different physical activities you could try include:
3 – Nowhere to Work Out
This excuse is the easiest to get past. You can get physical activity anywhere you are, whether you’re at work, home, or the park. If you’re at work, you can use your breaks to go for brisk walks.
Highly effective exercises you can do at home include squats, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and many others. You can also find exercise videos online for free. There are many videos for all types of physical activity, including yoga, dancing, and many others.
At the park, you can do many different types of physical activity. You can walk, run, ride a bike, or do yoga. If you have kids, you can even count chasing them at the park as your physical activity.
4 – Your Children Get in the Way
A common excuse to avoid physical activity is that kids get in the way. You can overcome that by having your kids join you instead of giving up. Kids can do many activities that adults can do, and it’s never too early to begin teaching them new things.
Have them join you as you do yoga, go for a walk or run, or even as you’re doing squats or push-ups. They’ll love the time spent with you, and they’ll be learning something new while exercising at the same time. It’s beneficial to both of you no matter which way you look at it.
Final Thoughts on Researchers Reveal Why Your Brain Doesn’t Want You to Exercise
It may be comforting to know that you’re not the only person that struggles to exercise regularly. Since your brain is wired to avoid physical activity, you’re naturally inclined to follow that urge. It’s important to fight against it, however, as physical activity is essential to a healthy life.
To train your brain to enjoy physical activity, you must find activities that you truly enjoy. There are many types of physical activity to choose from, so don’t give up if the one you try is boring.
Fight past any of the excuses that you tell yourself, and fight against the urges of your mind. It’s time to stop avoiding physical activity and learn to enjoy it.