Fitness: The purpose of exercise

The vast majority of people exercise for one purpose: to lose weight. They drag themselves to the gym two times a week, run like a hamster on a treadmill for half an hour and then expect that this one hour per week of self-sacrifice is going to make them thin. To be honest, this is about as flawed a strategy as I’ve ever seen. 

Let’s bring back an important figure from a previous post. Take a look at the pie-chart on the bottom left where the calories bunt from exercise activity (blue) is compared to the calories bunt from non-exercise activity (red). It is clear that the non-exercise component is a lot larger than the exercise component. Why? Well, simply because the average person exercises only 15 min per day, but is actually awake for at least 15 hours per day. Every single little bit of activity done in those 15 hours contributes to the calories burnt from non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), so even though your non-exercise activities are less intense than your exercise activities, the fact that they are done over such a long time makes them the primary calorie burners. If you’re looking for weight loss therefore, you should focus exclusively on building your passive fitness environment as described in the previous three posts (1, 2, 3).

Click on the figure for higher resolution.

Another motivation often given for exercising is improving health. Unfortunately, this motivation is almost just as flawed as the previous one. The exercise-component of the poor health that we experience today is a result of long periods of stagnation. If you are completely passive for three days and then go to the gym to push yourself through some intense exercise for one hour, it might actually do more harm than good by over-exerting your weakened body. What the body needs for good health and functionality is consistent, moderate use throughout the day as described in the previous three posts. This is what the body was designed for and this is how it should be used.

Indeed, there are only two legitimate motivations for exercise: having fun and taking your body to the next level. Therefore, if you are simply not the sporty type, you do not have to force yourself through painful and expensive gym sessions. Simply make sure that you have set up your passive fitness environment so that you move regularly throughout the day.

The next few posts will talk about exercise (the active fitness environment in the One in a Billion strategy) and focus only on the two legitimate motivations for doing this: having fun and taking your body to the next level. When done for the right reasons, exercise can be awesome, but when done for the wrong reasons, it can very quickly become painful and demoralizing. Make sure that your motivations are on target.

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