We don't exercise, even if we know it is good for us

We all know exercise is good for us but we don't do it. A 2018 survey showed that 50 percent of adults and 73 percent of high school students report that they don't meet the minimum levels of physical activity.

We realise that much of the health industry gives conflicting advice on how much exercise we need, what kind, and how to get motivated.

Juliana L. (@juliana_ell) - Profile Photo

@juliana_ell

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Health

Humans were meant to move but not to be active for no reason.

When you study modern hunter-gatherer tribes, you see them sitting around a lot, doing nothing. They do move a lot, but that is because they have to. They are about as fit as modern people who exercise an hour a day.

Many of the health problems we attribute to ageing are due to modern behaviours and lifestyles. They are a mismatch between how we were designed to live and how we really do.

  • Type 2 diabetes was almost unheard of in the hunter-gatherers, yet it is the fastest growing disease in the modern world.
  • Before WW2, heart attacks were not a big issue. Medical science hardly felt the need to study them.
  • An Italian study showed that between 1760 and 1839, less than one percent died from cancer.

Research shows that runners sit as much as less athletic people. Another study of Danes found no association between time spent sitting and heart disease.

But leisure-time sitting predicts mortality, suggesting that exercise habits in the mornings, evenings, and weekends affect our health. That means we should combine our exercise with occasionally getting up from the chair.

Studies show that in the vast majority of cases, more exercise is better.

  • There is a 30 percent reduction in mortality in individuals who exercise one hour a week compared to sedentary individuals.
  • People who exercise three hours a week lower their risk of death by another 10 percent.
  • Those who engage in 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week and weight train twice a week will reduce their risk of premature death by 50 percent.

Motivation for getting moving comes down to two things: A good reason to move and to socialise.

  • Consider a sport, or learn a skill like martial arts or dancing. Once you have a goal, it is not pointless and can even be fun.
  • For activities like going to the gym, do it with something rewarding like listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

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