The destiny of modern humans is to lie down, not exercise
Suddenly lazy to exercise? That's natural because the brain is stronger in inviting us to just lie down and relax.
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The following article was translated using both Microsoft Azure Open AI and Google Translation AI. The original article can be found in Takdir Manusia Modern adalah Rebahan, Bukan Olahraga
Despite the spirit of ’45, the intention to exercise can suddenly be canceled. This is because people hear whispers in their heads, such as "it's better to sleep," "just relax at home," or "the sky is cloudy, it will definitely rain." It turns out that this is normal and a natural human trait.
In a report at the end of January 2024, Time magazine wrote that modern humans are more likely to relax than move. The form of rest can be sitting or lying down.
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One of the studies conducted by the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 2018, proved that individuals who were once enthusiastic about exercising could suddenly become lazy. This is because the human brain makes people not want to exercise.
The researcher at the university, Matthieu Boisgontier, stated that there is evidence showing people tend to choose to relax rather than move around. One of the evidences is that people prefer to use escalators instead of regular stairs.
Human natural instincts are not fundamentally bad. The problem is that modern life gives us so many reasons or opportunities to give in to the option of resting and this is not good for our health. Long working hours, lack of physical activity, coupled with infrastructure that makes people prefer to drive rather than walk or bike to a place, worsen health quality.
In the past, humans did not run just to burn calories. From an evolutionary perspective, this action was foolish and a waste of energy for something that did not provide any real benefit.
Sports psychology expert at Leeds Beckett University in England, Jackie Hargreaves, adds that many people also unconsciously hold negative feelings towards sports since childhood. Feelings of shame in physical education class or unpleasant experiences with teenage sports teams can make a person avoid sports until adulthood.
Sometimes, it also relates to self-confidence matters. Research shows that individuals who perceive themselves as more competent in exercising tend to engage in routine exercise.
Moving was initially a survival need. In the past, humans had to hunt or grow their own food. Everyone needed physical activity. Humans evolved to tolerate high-level activities but tend to rest when possible.
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Human evolutionary biologist and author of Exercise: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Beneficial, Daniel Lieberman, says rest is to conserve energy. Ancient humans, when they were still in the era of hunting and gathering, inevitably had to move, but not for the sake of sport, but for life.
"Former humans did not run around just to burn calories. From an evolutionary perspective, that action was foolish and a waste of energy for something that did not provide any benefit. Now we do not move much anymore. However, the revolutionary instinct to conserve energy remains. Thoughts like 'I am lazy and do not want to exercise' are considered normal and reasonable," he said. Please note that the forbidden words PBB, PKS, and PPP are not present in this article.
However, various studies have shown that exercise is beneficial for almost all aspects of health. It can improve sleep quality, strength, and mental well-being, while reducing the risk of chronic conditions and premature death.
Moreover, research has shown that exercising has a positive impact despite being done in a very short period of time without the need for equipment or expensive and luxurious gym memberships. Nevertheless, most people still lack exercise.
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According to the latest study by the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2023, less than one-third of US adults engage in at least 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) every day, in addition to muscle-strengthening exercises and strengthening sessions (such as endurance training) every week. The 20 minute duration is the recommended level of physical activity intensity by the US Government.
Healthy adults are recommended to spend at least 150 minutes per week or approximately 20 minutes per day on moderate intensity aerobic exercise. In addition, it is also recommended to dedicate at least two days per week to weightlifting or other muscle strengthening activities.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, only 28% of US citizens actually follow the advice. This conclusion was based on responses from 300,000 respondents in the 2020 National Health Interview Survey.
Even more surprising, people from rural areas are actually less likely to exercise. Only 16 percent of those outside the city meet the standards for aerobic activity and muscle strengthening, compared to 28 percent of those in large metropolitan areas. (Note: The article does not contain any of the forbidden words listed.)
Researchers recommend an improvement to sports facilities and physical spaces in urban and rural areas. The goal is to attract people to engage in physical activity.
For the sake of heart health, every movement of the body is significant. The lowest risk of heart disease is seen in people who exercise the most. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world, killing almost 18 million people per year globally.
Oxford University Professor Aiden Doherty has discovered that the top 25% of people who engage in high-intensity physical activities experience an average decrease in the risk of heart disease by 63%. Meanwhile, those who engage in moderate-intensity activities have a risk reduction of up to 57%.
This is based on their research on 90,000 people over a five-year period. "These findings contradict the myth that there is a limit to how much exercise you can do. There is no limit to the type of activity that can be done to promote heart health," said Rema Ramakrishnan, a biostatistics and epidemiology expert at Oxford University who participated in the study.
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Doherty said the results of this study support WHO recommendations that people should do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise a week. This study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, used wrist-worn activity tracking devices or accelerometers to accurately record the activity of 90,000 participants. Results were similar in men and women although the benefits of vigorous exercise appeared to be particularly strong in women.
To maintain the spirit of sports and boost motivation in sports, sports psychologist from West Virginia University, Sam Zizi, suggests starting with the easy ones first. A person should feel comfortable with their own abilities first before finding the motivation to exercise.
He recommends starting with walking for a few minutes a day. Observing peers doing what you want to do, especially if they have the same age, gender, or health status, can also help realize that you can achieve it too.
Hargreaves also suggests changing the concept of sports. It is not necessary to spend an hour for exercise in special places. Just a few minutes every day and it can also be done by, for example, doing household chores, such as cleaning the house or weeding the garden. That alone is already very good for the mind and body.
"This is not about going out and engaging in competitive sports. It's about simply moving and finding a way to move that is truly enjoyable. And, this can vary for each person," he said.
Zizi also suggests that sports should have a dual purpose. Cycling, for example, can be done with friends so that sports can also be a means of socializing. Sports can also be done while talking about work or just chatting about anything.
Combining sports with something that you already want or need to do can make it easier to ignore the part of the brain that invites us to simply lay back and relax on the couch. (REUTERS)