When faced with the opportunity to go to the gym or stay home lying on the couch binge-watching Netflix, those already doing the latter may find it very difficult to work up the motivation for physical activity. This sort of laziness may be hardwired into humans, according to new research out of the University of British Columbia.
The research was conducted by University of British Columbia researcher Matthieu Boisgontier and colleagues who set out to determine why people are exercising less than ever. It’s common knowledge that exercise and physical activity are a key element to staying healthy, but such knowledge does little to get someone off the couch.
The reasons for that may lie in the human brain, which has to work harder when the person transitions from lazy to active states. Researchers discovered this using computers that flashed single images showing either inactivity or activity. Volunteers were tasked with moving an avatar to activity pictures and away from inactivity pictures.
While doing this, researchers got a look at the volunteers’ brain activity, finding that more work was required when moving away from inactivity than toward activity. This could be a hardwired reality reinforced by evolution, one that encourages humans to conserve energy by chilling out and dedicating their efforts to things that increase survival, such as finding food and shelter.
This isn’t the first study to find hints of laziness hardwired in the human brain. Last year, a study out of University College London found that one’s brain may trick the person into viewing a low-effort option as preferable over options that require more effort. Such a tendency may go unnoticed by individuals who experience it.