Turns Out We're Hard-Wired To Not Like Exercise

Excuse while we go lie down immediately.

A new study published in the journal Current Biology says not wanting to exercise may be hard-wired in the brain, and that yes, it naturally can take some hard work to stop you being lazy.

It's nature, people, and who are we to go against it? Back to bed, then.

The New York Times reports that even when people make plans to exercise, electrical signals within the brain may be "nudging them toward being sedentary". Which may go some way to explain why so many people struggle to keep up with the motivation to exercise, even when they know the health benefits associated with it.

And when we say "they", we mean "we".

Researchers conducted a small study with 29 fit young men and women and found that, even though participants said that they wanted to be active, only a few of them actually were on a regular basis.

The researchers fitted each of the volunteers with a cap containing multiple electrodes that read and recorded the brain’s electrical activity,  then made them do an elaborate test to see how they felt about exercise -- and the results indicated that laziness was their first choice.


“To me, these findings would seem to indicate that our brains are innately attracted to being sedentary,” says Matthieu Boisgontier, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who led the study.

Time magazine also reported the findings, suggesting that choosing the couch over the gym is actually just human, and that we're inherently lazy -- which may be a trait left over from our ancestors’ days of conserving energy for the next hunt.

According to the study, “additional cortical resources were required to counteract an attraction to sedentary behaviors.”

In other words, it can take a bit of brain training to overcome these automatic processes in the brain and body if you want to get that workout in.

In conclusion, said the study, people who are reluctant to exercise “should maybe know that it is not just them,” said Dr Boisgontier. "It really does seem that humans may have a natural bias toward inactivity."

But we also can consciously choose to move, he said, despite what our brains may think.

D'oh. Bad news for the chill session we were planning for the weekend, then.

Feature Image: Getty