Science determines why many people are too lazy to exercise, especially at first, and it’s not about time

No one doubts at this point that exercise is health, both physical and mental. However, the new Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity shows that almost half of the European population does not do any exercise. The reason? Most claim they don’t have the time, to which is sometimes added the lack of motivation and lack of interest.

However, there are studies that show that time ceases to be a factor if we have the support of family and friends or if our doctor simply insists that we be physically active. What’s more, these investigations reveal that people who regularly exercise manage their time better.

We actually procrastinate

Experts in this field point out that the problem with time management is not so much a lack of it, but rather our tendency to procrastinate. Procrastinate is a recent modern verb which, according to the RAE, means ‘put off, put off’. It comes from the Latin adverb beauty (tomorrow, the day after tomorrow). Well, it turns out that nearly half of all students and about a fifth of adults report being severe and chronic procrastinators.

They probably overlook the fact that procrastination can not only be counterproductive in our professional and personal daily lives, but also affect our perception of our quality of life. To procrastinate it causes anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia, disorders whose frequency also increases if exercise is not practiced. Eventually, the mejid bites its tail.

It’s not laziness, it’s an internal battle

We usually associate procrastination with being lazy or even somewhat incompetent. But neuroscience tells us that deep down, procrastination is due to an internal biological battle: one waged by our interconnected limbic system and prefrontal cortex. The limbic system includes a series of brain structures associated with the activation of emotions. It is a very powerful system that, from an evolutionary point of view, appeared on the phylogenetic scale before the prefrontal cortex.

Reference photo of a person working out – Photo: Getty Images

As for this region of the cerebral cortex, it is responsible for generating complex behaviors such as reasoning, problem solving, and social cognition. For all these reasons, it is called the “center of personality” and is considered the most developed brain structure. When faced with a situation or task that may seem unpleasant to us, we procrastinate because the limbic system beats the cerebral cortex. We choose to feel better in the moment, we prefer the immediate reward. In this way, we postpone the task without considering that this delay can be counterproductive and ultimately generate discomfort.

I will train tomorrow

Exercise is particularly susceptible to procrastination. There are many people who perceive practicing sports as something unpleasant and disgusting. Behind this aversion can be boredom and frustration, which in turn are great predictors of procrastination. All in squares.

Additionally, there are studies that show that engaging in intense physical activity tends to put us in an unpleasant state of activation. Although many of us feel better after intense physical exercise, while doing it, it’s not as pleasant. An initial reluctance to move and being so comfortable at home when considering the option can cause us to procrastinate.

More physical activity and less procrastination

A recent study that included 621 people (274 women and 347 men) between the ages of 18 and 83 and who practiced some kind of physical activity shows that with sports practices we perceive that we have a better quality of life and more good physical and mental health. , and that we are less likely to procrastinate.

HIIT is high-intensity exercise that promotes weight loss.
HIIT is a series of high-intensity exercises that contribute to weight loss – Photo: Getty Images

In this study, it was found that if exercise was practiced for at least 150 minutes per week, the perception of one’s own health was much more positive. The English poet Edward Young said, “Lost time is existence; life is used up”. Let’s live then and not limit ourselves in existence.

from: Francisco Jose Esteban Ruiz

Professor of Cell Biology, University of Jaen

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