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Historic evidence suggests that for many thousands of years, human beings were more active and stronger than today.
The early humans had increased movement and activity, like going for long and tiring hunts, walking long distances that took weeks, making the prehistoric humans fitter than the best athletes today.
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The calories we burn every day include not only movement but all the energy needed to run the thousands of functions that keep us alive.
Exercise is like a wonder drug for many health outcomes: reducing blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes of heart diseases and slows developing cognitive impairment from Alzheimer's and dementia.
But as for losing weight, it helps more in weight maintenance than in losing the actual weight.
Exercise alone has a modest contribution to weight loss. But when you alter one component, cutting the number of calories you eat in a day to lose weight, doing more exercise than usual, this sets off a cascade of changes in the body that affect how many calories you use up and, in turn, your bodyweight.
To understand the conflict between our good intentions and our contrary impulses, we can look at the dual process model. Our behavior are divided into two categories:
The attraction toward sedentary can be viewed in light of evolution. When it was challenging to gain access to food, minimizing effort allowed for the saving of energy that was crucial for survival.
This tendency could explain the current pandemic of physical inactivity since genes allowing individuals to survive are likely to be present in the next generation.