There is a long list of reasons and arguments that could answer the question Why don’t people exercise?
Today we try to analyze the reason for this continued failure, this time in the field of physical exercise </ strong>. Why people today do not do physical exercise and are sedentary is a question that we should be unravelling day after day.
In today’s post I will refer to “physical exercise”, but we could also be talking about “physical activity”.
Adherence: the fundamental factor
Professionals are tired of saying it: in any intervention aimed at improving quality of life, adherence is key
People’s ability to “do what needs to be done for as long as it needs to be done”, which would be a good and basic way of defining “adherence”, obsesses us.
And it is not for less, since it is usually the factor that fails in most cases in an attempt to improve health
We are going to analyse what are the reasons that contribute to our increasingly sedentary population, but surely you can leave us many more in the comments:
The motivations to move have changed a lot in a short time
We do not need (barely) to move to eat or drink. I still remember when my grandparents told me that every morning they had to walk 5 km to go to the well to get drinking water.
It is something to point out. Today from the smartphone application we can generate three pizzas and soon the delivery man will put it in our mouth already chewed. The density of supermarkets and points of purchase has increased in the last 10 years.
In short, the “reasons” for which people move have changed a lot, and whether we like it or not, the main one is still aesthetic motivation.
What happens then in the wealthy middle-aged person who does not pursue any aesthetic goal or in the grandpa who completely ignores any aesthetic connotation?
That they have no motivation to exercise.
And so we have a population in which 60% are sedentary
Have you ever heard the phrase: At my age, why should I exercise?
We continue to have the idea as a society that exercise, and physical activity are something for youngsters and that as we get older we have to become irremediably more sedentary and wrinkled.
We have an epidemic of sarcopenia among our elders (and not so elders) that will only be buffered with physical exercise.
The prescribers of physical exercise are very clear about its benefits, but sometimes we do not know how to put ourselves in the other person’s skin
I’m tired of swallowing my words when I say “…you have to train every day…” and they answer me “…dear doctor, I’m a taxi driver, I work 14 hours a day in unpredictable shifts and when I get home all I want is for them to leave me alone on the sofa…”.
Work activity is a great determining factor when it comes to physical exercise and being healthy
That is why it is so important to develop physical exercise programs in the workplace , legislate in this regard and offer the client strategies and training that maximize adherence and compromise the person’s lifestyle as little as possible.
Speaking of harsh realities, when a person is up to their necks and their thoughts are directed at predicting whether or not their children will be able to eat in the last days of the month, do not talk to them about physical exercise.
This, which might seem like an extreme situation, is the reality of thousands and thousands of people every day. The socioeconomic context is another great conditioning factor.
The atmosphere is everything. If you surround yourself with active people, you will be more active. If your friends go for a walk in the afternoon, you will be more likely to do it yourself. If your friends go out for beers, same thing. If you have a group of friends at the gym, you will create bond.
If your group of friends is sedentary, you will meet to watch a series or have some tapas
There are still prejudices about physical exercise that condition the individual:
- “The women get big if they train with weights”
- “In the pregnancy you can’t exercise”
- “Children should not touch the weights”
- “If you have a cold don't train”
- “The weight room is for vain bodybuilders”
- “Painting a lot of weight is bad for back”
There is a mismatch between what people think is their priority and what their actions show
If we randomly ask 10 people on the street “what is the most important thing to you”, at least 6 or 7 would say “health”.
However, this is an idea and a principle that laterdoes not usually materialize in concrete actions to protect that health. Habits, conditioning and problems usually win the battle.
Health is not a priority for most people
From a young age they put it into our heads that “physical education” is less important than other main subjects, that sports activities are “leisure”, that “first things first”… We have unconsciously associated physical exercise with something subject to to other “more important” things.
And we carry this conditioning into our adulthood
We live in the Fortnite era…
Streamers earn a lot playing video games precisely because they have a loyal and growing audience.
Poor working mothers and fathers leave their children in front of the screen while doing household chores, seeing a moment of respite from the craziness of everyday life while their children watch their favorite youtuber play online .
There are fewer and fewer kids in the street playing, and this makes us very sad
When I was 10 years old, I used to play with my group of friends in the park every afternoon and, although sometimes we ended up throwing stones at each other or fighting, I remember feeling tired and hungry when I got home after >4 hours running and playing. I think that’s just what you’re missing.
See you in the next post!
- Schutzer KA, Graves BS. Barriers and motivations to exercise in older adults. Preventive Medicine. 2004.
- Korkiakangas EE, Alahuhta MA, Laitinen JH. Barriers to regular exercise among adults at high risk or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review. Health Promot Int. 2009;
- Justine M, Azizan A, Hassan V, Salleh Z, Manaf H. Barriers to participation in physical activity and exercise among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Singapore Med J. 2013;
- Mailey EL, Phillips SM, Dlugonski D, Conroy DE. Overcoming barriers to exercise among parents: a social cognitive theory perspective. J Behav Med. 2016.
- Sedentary Lifestyle Kills
- Sedentary Habits: For your health, change them as soon as possible!
- Metabolic Syndrome, the Global Pandemic
Lack of adherence - 100%
Lack of motivation - 100%
Be older - 100%
Social factors - 100%
Priorities - 100%
Use of technology for leisure - 100%