Ex­er­cise: the strug­gle is real

South Shore Breaker - - Health& Wellness - DR. COLIN MA­CLEOD, ND HEALTH, NAT­U­RALLY info@dr­col­in­macleod.com

Get­ting reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is some­thing that has been rec­om­mended for decades by doc­tors and health sci­en­tists. The ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise are pro­found and far-reach­ing, how­ever, a reg­u­lar and rig­or­ous ex­er­cise rou­tine is some­thing which evades many Cana­di­ans. There are many fac­tors at play in the avoid­ance or lim­it­ing of ex­er­cise, but the men­tal block sur­round­ing get­ting started with phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is cru­cial.

New re­search out of the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia (UBC) and pub­lished in the jour­nal Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia, has looked into the phe­nom­e­non of the men­tal block sur­round­ing ex­er­cise. This block is es­sen­tially when a per­son can’t get started with phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity be­cause of dread, hes­i­ta­tion or sim­ply lack of de­sire to ex­er­cise. This phe­nom­e­non has been de­scribed as the “ex­er­cise para­dox.” Though we’ve been en­cour­aged for decades to ex­er­cise more, sta­tis­tics are show­ing that as a so­ci­ety we are ex­er­cis­ing less.

The re­searchers in the study showed im­ages on a screen to young adults de­pict­ing ei­ther phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity or seden­tary be­hav­iour and recorded their brain ac­tiv­ity. More men­tal ef­fort (mea­sured via elec­trodes) was ob­served in the brain when the par­tic­i­pants of the study viewed im­ages de­pict­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and less men­tal ef­fort was as­so­ci­ated with im­ages de­pict­ing seden­tary be­hav­iour.

“Con­serv­ing en­ergy has been es­sen­tial for hu­mans’ sur­vival, as it al­lowed us to be more ef­fi­cient in search­ing for food and shel­ter, com­pet­ing for sex­ual part­ners and avoid­ing preda­tors,” said Matthieu Bois­gon­tier, a re­searcher at UBC and se­nior au­thor of the study. “The fail­ure of pub­lic poli­cies to coun­ter­act the pan­demic of phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity may be due to brain pro­cesses that have been de­vel­oped and re­in­forced across evo­lu­tion.

“We knew from pre­vi­ous stud­ies that peo­ple are faster at avoid­ing seden­tary be­hav­iours and mov­ing to­ward ac­tive be­hav­iours. The ex­cit­ing nov­elty of our study is that it shows this faster avoid­ance of phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity comes at a cost — and that is an in­creased in­volve­ment of brain re­sources,” Bois­gon­tier said.

“These re­sults sug­gest that our brain is in­nately at­tracted to seden­tary be­hav­iours. Any­thing that hap­pens au­to­mat­i­cally is dif­fi­cult to in­hibit, even if you want to, be­cause you don't know that it is hap­pen­ing. But know­ing that it is hap­pen­ing is an im­por­tant first step,” Bois­gon­tier said.

While ex­er­cise may be the per­fect drug, ben­e­fit­ing al­most ev­ery health con­di­tion you can name, too many Cana­di­ans aren’t tak­ing it. The men­tal block sur­round­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is in­grained within us from mil­lions of years of evo­lu­tion, but we must find ways to over­come this bar­rier. By es­tab­lish­ing healthy habits sur­round­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, we can over­come the au­to­matic re­sponse to avoid ex­er­cise and con­serve our en­ergy.

If you have ques­tions about the ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise or strate­gies for es­tab­lish­ing an ef­fec­tive ex­er­cise rou­tine, ask your natur­o­pathic doc­tor.

123RF

New re­search says that the men­tal block peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence when try­ing to find mo­ti­va­tion to ex­er­cise, is a real thing.

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