Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to get up and exercise? When your friend asks you to get up early and walk before work, do you find yourself putting excuses just to spend an extra 45 minutes comfortable and warm under the covers? You are certainly not alone, and maybe your mind is working against you!
A new study conducted by the Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality at Southwest University in Chongqing, China demonstrated that women considered overweight or obese responded differently to images of exercise than did women who were of average or healthy body weights. These women, 13 in each weight category, were placed in MRI machines and asked to observe pictures of people exercising (walking, running, biking, tennis, etc) and asked to imitate the movements to a smaller scale while in the machine. Then they were shown images of sedentary activities (i.e. watching TV, sitting at a desk, etc) and asked to imitate and imagine themselves doing those activities. Scientists were observing their brains response to these stimuli, and found that the Putamen region (associated with positive feelings towards an activity/behavior) lit up when the healthier weight women saw exercise, but had very little activity in the overweight or obese women’s brains.
So you may be thinking, “That’s exactly how I feel! When I think of exercising, I dread it!” Well hold your horses. You see, “The scans also showed that when overweight volunteers viewed images of exercise, a portion of their brain related to movement memory remained stubbornly silent. Their bodies were unfamiliar with how to be active.” It may be a long time since you actively sought out a tennis match, or did a 5k run, or went on a long hike. You may feel like you’ll embarrass yourself out there, or your knees and ankles and hips are just in too much pain due to your weight to even get out there and try. Just know, you CAN & SHOULD still get out there and be active and get healthier… you just need to do baby steps. Start with a couple laps of your community, then double that, then sign up for a 5k walk with some friends 6-8 weeks down the road. Get out to one of our beautiful state parks and try out a scenic hiking trail one weekend. Join a Hot yoga class, join a roller skating or cycling social group. Pretty soon you’ll be shedding off some weight, feeling more positive and stronger, and getting your Putamen putting out positive signals about exercise again.
Just remember, if you feel like you can’t jump start your exercise goals because your weight is so debilitating, we’re here to help. Maybe a weight loss procedure is just the right thing to kick start your journey to a healthier You. If it is, don’t hesitate to call and set up a consult. Happy Thanksgiving, and Blessings to You and Yours!
-Nathaniel Berrios, P.A.-C