Can’t stick with an exercise program?

Of course I am into endurance sports and I have other friends who are into “fitness”. On the other hand, I have some friends who have told me that they struggle to stick with exercise of any kind.

So what is going on and what might help?

What I am about to write is a mixture of my thoughts and some science; I’ll be clear about that is what.

Here are my ideas:

1. Accept that some are just naturally drawn to exercise while others are not:

If you give a rat a running wheel and it decides not to use it, are genes to blame? And if so, what does that tell us about why many people skip exercise?

To examine those questions, scientists at the University of Missouri in Columbia recently interbred rats to create two very distinct groups of animals, one of which loves to run. Those in the other group turn up their collective little noses at exercise, slouching idly in their cages instead.

Then the scientists closely scrutinized and compared the animals’ bodies, brains and DNA.


They began with ordinary adult male and female lab rats. These rats generally embrace the opportunity to run, although individual mileage can differ substantially among rats.

The scientists put running wheels in the animals’ cages and, for six days, tracked how much they ran. Afterward, the males and females that had logged the most miles were bred to each other, while those who’d run the least were likewise paired. Then the pups from each group were bred in a similar way, through 10 generations.

At that point, the running rats tended to spontaneously exercise 10 times as much as the physically lazier animals.

Now, the researchers set out to determine why.


nd it was here that genetics entered. The scientists compared the activity of thousands of genes in a specific portion of the brain that controls reward behavior, or the motivation to do things because they’re enjoyable.

They found dozens of genes that differed between the two groups.

The rats’ decision to run or not to run, in other words, was being driven, at least in part, by the genetics of motivation.

Upshot: some people, like me, just have an inner motivation to work out. I did even when I was morbidly obese (weights, walking); i feel miserable when I can’t. When I am sick and have to rest, I try to workout as soon as I can.

So the take away here is that some simply won’t exercise even if they “know it is good for them”, at least for the sake of exercising. Such people need another reason.

This is where group fitness comes in; some have found that if they can develop a “community” feeling by either taking a class, having workout dates with a friend (or friends) or simply developing a community feeling at a set time (like that at a bar) they can come to view the workouts as part of their social life.

2. Sometimes the exercise does not lead to fitness gains; one must find the kind of exercise that “works” for them. We are all different…even people who are drawn to work out are different. Sometimes, the “wrong for you” kind of exercise just wears you out instead of making you fitter:

For the new rodent study, which was published this month in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, scientists from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim created two strains of rats that would or would not respond well to working out.

To do so, they first had rats run for several weeks and noted how much distance the animals added before tiring during that time, meaning how well they were adapting to the workouts.

The males that added the most mileage were bred with the females who responded likewise, and the animals that added the fewest miles to their runs were also mated to one another.

After seven generations, the scientists had rats that should have been high or low responders to exercise.

And the first part of the new experiment proved that supposition to be true. The two types of rats were set on teensy treadmills with workouts that were identical in speed and intensity. The animals completed the same training program for two months.

By the end, the rats bred to respond well to running had increased the distance that they could run before tiring by about 40 percent.

The other rats were much more resistant to training, generally losing about 2 percent of their endurance during the training.

I see this in lifters and runners and swimmers all of the time. People respond a bit differently to a particular exercise. It is also my opinion that people like success and therefore won’t stick with something when they can’t see improvements.

3. Choose something that you enjoy doing. (just an opinion) There are many ways to work out and I know that there are many “you have to do this” tasks in my life. Exercise should be “you want to do this” and some find more enjoyment in some activities and not in others.


November 20, 2015 - Posted by | social/political | ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: