Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that we are lazy because of the way our brain is wired. Their findings were published in the Neuropsychologia, explaining why society got lazier, even though it’s bad for our health.
Here’s why most of us get lazy when it’s time to be a little more active.
The Brain Chooses The Easiest Task
According to the study, our brains are built to pick the easiest task.
For their study, researchers got young adults to sit in front a computer and perform a simple test. They had to move a digital avatar around the screen. The team of researchers had electrodes to measure the brain activity of their participants.
The test subjects had to move that avatar toward a specific image. On the monitor, appeared images of physical activity and relaxation one by one, and the participants had to move the avatar towards the active one and move away from the lazy one – all as fast as possible.
Here is the animation:
The results of the study showed that the participants made the healthier choice, moving fast toward the images containing activity, but the brain was a little slower in performing that task. Matthieu Boisgontier, the senior author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at UBC, explains:
“The exciting novelty of our study is that it shows this faster avoidance of physical inactivity comes at a cost — and that is an increased involvement of brain resources. These results suggest that our brain is innately attracted to sedentary behaviours.”
He added that the attraction to being lazy was probably formed through generation, adding that it is a way of conserving energy, which has “been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners and avoiding predators.”
Can we change that habit? Boisgontier explains that we’ll have to wait and see:
“Anything that happens automatically is difficult to inhibit, even if you want to, because you don’t know that it is happening. But knowing that it is happening is an important first step.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.