How to Trick Your Body Into Exercising


Exercising comes easier to some people than others. Some people are just more movement oriented, and others prefer to cuddle the couch and re-watch season one of Enlightened on repeat. You Say Potato, I Say Pass the Potato Chips.

However, the benefits of regular movement cannot be ignored. And it doesn’t take Tae Boe XXXtreme to achieve better health. Gretchen Reynolds over at the NY Times Well blog — and the author of the excellent The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer — has some tips for getting into the groove. Incidentally, Reynolds is awesome; she makes jokes about Nickleback, but is still nonjudgemental about your love for them. She’s very enjoyable. Also, she says we’re all “physiologically lazy” and we need to snap out of it.

While it can be quite difficult to trick your brain out of preserving energy, there one big trick.

But the scientists have found one signal that does seem effectively to override the body’s strong pull toward its preferred ways of moving: a strongly rhythmic beat. When Dr. Donelan and his colleagues fitted runners or walkers with headphones tuned to a metronome, they found that they could increase or decrease volunteers’ step frequency, even if that frequency was faster or slower than a person’s preferred step pattern. They would also maintain that pace for as long as the metronomic rhythm continued unaltered. The volunteers aligned their movement to the beat.

If you want to move faster, perhaps Ke$ha can help. Alternately, if you want to move faster and not hate yourself, maybe try the new Tegan & Sara album? There’s even an app called Cruise Control that can go through your iTunes library and make you a playlist that helps you keep pace.

However, as Reynolds points out, if you’re moving regularly, you don’t necessarily have to pick up the pace. As I learned from The First 20 Minutes, walking gives you many of the same benefits as running, without the same high risks. Perhaps the Fiona Apple stroll/sob combo isn’t so bad after all?

[NY Times]

Image via Peter Bernik / Shutterstock.

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