Love of Exercise?
It is February and this month is dominated by Valentines day and so this is the month of love and we want to share the love of exercise with you.
If you have started a new fitness regime in January, then by February hopefully you have fallen in love with exercise. Meaning that you should now find some sort of joy for performing this type of physical activity. Whether it is the feeling of achievement afterwards or the physical challenge of completion there should be some enjoyment for participation in this type of behaviour.
The love of exercise can be polarising. Say “Exercise” to people and there are two common responses:
Great! I love exercise
Oh NO! I hate exercise
If you remember from out last post, exercise is Physical activity that is repeated, planned, purposeful and structured.
Exercise is a relatively new concept in terms of biology, because we are now performing physical activity for health reasons rather than working the land or hunting.
Love of our physical form comes from understanding our bodies from an evolutionary point of view. Because exercise is actually not a natural phenomena and is relatively new in terms of the human experience on Earth.
So, why do most people hate exercise when it is so good for us?
The key is in our biology and more particular viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology.
Where saving energy when we were hunter gatherers was the name of the game. This is also why we have evolved to be so energy efficient at walking and why you can’t walk your way to weight loss.
Here we would have been active most of the day with physical tasks. This is the same with the agricultural revolution, physical tasks were required for the farming of crops and livestock.
The use of Technology has been a game changer in terms of human physical exertion. We now work by sitting down all day which is a direct paradox to how our physical biology has evolved.
The other concept is the abundance of food, particularly very tasty high calorie food that we don’t have to hunt or forage for.
These days in order to be healthy we have to choose to move. However, this goes directly against your primeval drive to rest, relax and conserve energy. Or indeed take the route of least resistance. Increasing your Physical Activity might look like taking the lift/escalator rather than the stairs in a modern day environment.
To counter our natural instincts to conserve energy, “Smart” new buildings have deliberately changed their layouts so that stairs are at the front of a building and the lifts are at the back. Thus encouraging stair use and physical activity by making our environment more “physically friendly”
Moreover, we need to apply this logic to our entire lives in order to simply get more activity into our lives. Strategies such as active transport, which means walking or cycling to work, or at least getting off one stop earlier on the bus for example.
Most health advisors agree that 150 mins of moderate physical activity per week is the minimum investment of time for health purposes. Despite this recommendation, most adults struggle to achieve this, bearing in mind this is only 22 minutes per day.
Strangely, we have known about this in the UK since the 1950’s. But 80 years later we continue to repeat our learning of the old information.
Physical activity for health benefits is best explained by the London Buses study by Morris et al in the 1950’s. In this revolutionary study comparing the health of Bus Drivers against Bus conductors clear evidence can be seen that walking around the bus and climbing stairs is better for your health than sitting down for the same hours of work (See reference).
Physical activity has multiple benefits to both physical and mental health. It’s so good for you it should be prescribed to everyone. However, the medicine is not necessarily to everyone’ s taste.
So, this concept that we should “love exercise” perhaps needs a rethink.
We should be encouraged to exercise, but ultimately, this should be our decision based on what is good for our health, the health of our families, our nations and our world.
At Marylebone Physio and Sports Medicine we understand the importance of exercise. Whether you love it or not we can prescribe you the right exercise at the right time to get you back to loving whatever exercise is your preference.
Because, the best exercise for you is the one you love doing.
Thanks to Daniel Lieberman and his book “Exercised” as the inspiration behind this post.
Exercised: Why something We never evolved to do is healthy and rewarding By Daniel E. Lieberman, New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2021. ISBN-13: 9781524746995
MORRIS JN, CRAWFORD MD. Coronary heart disease and physical activity of work; evidence of a national necropsy survey. Br Med J. 1958 Dec 20;2(5111):1485-96. doi: 10.1136/bmj.2.5111.1485. PMID: 13608027; PMCID: PMC2027542.