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Sedentarism and exercise – the real reason why people don’t exercise

Exercise is movement made hard

We make exercise hard because we have to use more effort to get our bodies moving. And when we’re not used to using that much effort, it can be really tough.

So now, every time I think of people not doing exercise, I’m like, yeah, it was hard. Because it’s movement, just made hard. It’s as simple as that. It’s just you working harder than you would when you’re not exercising.

But that’s not the only reason people don’t exercise. There’s also something called sedentarism.

We live a sedentary lifestyle

Sedentarism is a state of inactivity, and it’s becoming more and more common as our world becomes more digital. We’re sitting down more, we’re working on computers more, and we’re just generally not moving around as much as we used to.

And this has some pretty serious consequences for our health. Studies have shown that being sedentary can lead to all sorts of problems, including obesity, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer.

But we all know exercise is good for us right?

There’s a systemic lack of exercise in our society. Would you agree? And you would agree that exercise is hard? And you would agree that you have to make a very conscious effort to do that exercise?

Quite often you are battling demons telling you not to do exercise. But you do it anyway. We battle those demons to overcome and undertake exercise, because logically we know we’re going to feel better after it. 

We know exercise is good for us, so why don’t we just do it?

What caused us to have those demons in the first place? It just doesn’t make sense. We all know that exercise is beneficial to our health, so why don’t we do it?

It’s because it’s hard.

And it’s because it seems to be a systemic issue that goes back to maybe when we’re evolutionary soup. Did you know that we are the only organism on this earth that expends energy as a need. Every other organism is trying to sustain energy. They’re trying to reduce their expulsion of this energy. They reduce how much they move because they don’t know when or where the next source of energy is going to come from.

Whereas I saw an Instagram video recently and I saw four people on the ground puffing and panting. If that was in the wild then you’d think that they’ve either just run away from a Saber Tooth Tiger or they’re having a heart attack. Not that they’ve actually inflicted that on themselves.

So we are struggling to do basic exercise and it brings it back to the fact it’s hard. We don’t want to expel our energy. It’s innate in us. It’s generic. Evolutionarily, we do not want to give that energy up.

Australia and the definition of Terra Nullius

A really interesting discovery I made recently was the definition of Australia and Terra Nullius. The qualifying criteria for a place to be considered an uncivilised place was that there is no one around. Now we know that’s not true, but one of the reasons why they justified it was because there was no sedentarism.

It was not a society that was sedentary. It was a hunter gatherer society. Thus, they have not figured out the enlightenment of sedentarism. Of being lazy. It blew my mind!

We are a society of sedentary people, not because of just the fact that exercise is hard. It’s because it is innately in-built in us to be a cultured civilised society, we have to show sedentarism. 

We don’t place value on physically hard work

As a society as we become more sedentary, we grow in other aspects. We grow in civilisation and culture. If we’re actually out there tending to the land and working hard to get something back, that is not what would be considered a civilised approach.

If you compare a tradesman’s hands to a banker’s hands, you look at how much each one of those is making in income. Traditionally it’s the white collar worker that’s the one that makes the money, the one we place more value on as a society, but they’ve got less dirt on their hands.

We reward doing nothing with everything

We very rarely get a reward for expelling energy. So it’s innately in-built in us not to do that. As soon as you understand that we’ve got everything against us to expel that energy, and that even the people that do it routinely battle the same demons, they just have a better mindset to overcome them.

If we realise that everyone is going to struggle with that, and that it goes so deep. We can’t expect people just to do exercise. We can’t just expect to give you an exercise and you will do it. The likelihood is you won’t cause there’s too many demons. There’s too many barriers. We live in a sedentary society. And that’s civilisation.

We need to be smarter in how we use exercise

We need to be smart with how we use exercise. We know the benefits of it. Our clients know the benefits of it. I’m pretty sure if you go to the general populace and say, “Hey, what’s good for you?” They reply; “oh, don’t eat too much, exercise more, sleep better, drink water, meditate”. And if you ask “what’s bad for you?”, they’ll say something like; “smoking, drinking, eating too much, consuming sugar.”

And then if you ask them what they actually do, it’s none of the good stuff and all of the bad stuff.

We all know what is good for us, but we’re challenged by it. So coming into a health care environment, we need to care for people with this in mind.

Delivering better health care

We need to understand these underlying subliminal challenges people are going to be overcoming to engage with activity. So our job is to find out what’s meaningful to them, and it might be as small as a four to 10 minute walk once a week. And it can have a significant improvement in their overall pain.

Understanding that these barriers exist is the first challenge we have as healthcare practitioners in getting people to live better quality of life, having better movement, and doing the things that they love again.

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