Don’t Be Fooled, Treadmills Are Miserable

The treadmill ruins the simplicity of running and packages the sport as a commodity.

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You subject yourself to the soul-crushing boredom and repetition of chugging away on the treadmill 3-4 times a week, just like your doctor and your trainer told you to, but you’re not losing any weight – what’s up with that?


Guess what?  There’s good scientific evidence that you’ll never lose weight this way – here’s why:

Exercise Makes You Hungry

If you’re like most people, your diet and exercise regimen is a kind of metaphorical treadmill.  You’re simply chasing the calories you consume with exercise and then wolfing down extra calories to satisfy your post-workout hunger. Studies show that most people who chase calories with exercise and exercise with calories in this way end up consuming more than they burn, thus defeating the purpose of the whole enterprise.

Long sessions of slow cardio make you hungry, and hunger leads to overeating and bingeing.  Sounds pretty depressing, right?  What can you do to get off this metaphorical treadmill from hell?  First, get off the treadmill and out of the gym.  The commodification, mechanization and marketing of exercise is like packaged food – it’s designed for profit, not to help you lose weight.

New research shows that intensity is much more important than time when it comes to the benefits of exercise.  So find some activity you love – be creative – think tree-climbing, surfing, dancing, anything that involves whole-body multi-planar movements.  Now remove the repetition, guilt, and fear of failure that saps most people’s motivation.  You don’t have to do it every day, and you don’t have to do the same exercise every day.  Just try to get outside and move a few times a week.  As an added bonus, doing it in the morning sunshine will elevate your mood and help you sleep better.


Exercise Makes You Lazy

Behavioral Compensation” is the term scientists use to describe the phenomenon of laziness after a workout.  It’s impossible to get past the mathematics of this problem: roughly 80% of the calories you burn every day come from “NEAT” which is an acronym for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  This 80% includes all the calories you burn when you’re not exercising.  It turns out that after you go to the gym you’re much more likely to take the elevator than bounce up the stairs, and at the end of the day you’ll probably find yourself laying on the sofa rather than taking an evening stroll.  The fact that so many more of your daily calories are burned during rest amplifies this problem – extra calories burned at the gym are easily erased by your post-workout lethargy.


You Burn Fewer and Fewer Calories

The scientific news gets even worse.  Metabolic compensation is the term used to describe the well-documented phenomenon of a decrease in your metabolic rate in response to weight loss.  This is the reason that most of the winners on the TV show The Biggest Loser ended up gaining the weight back in a follow-up study.  There is a way to beat this effect and again it involves multi-dimensional whole body holistic movements (anything that’s not mechanized) and intensity.  The more muscle fiber you activate in the time you spend exercising the greater the effect on your resting metabolic rate.


Repetition is Anti-Motivational

Boredom and repetition kill your motivation.  This is why the gym is such a toxic environment for fitness – every machine is designed around the concept of mechanized, repetitive, linear movement focused on the fevered enlargement of select body parts.  Psychological studies show that the best way to get and stay motivated is to continually challenge yourself with tasks which are not so easy that they’re boring but just hard enough that you need to focus your efforts and step outside your comfort zone.  Working hard to achieve these tasks will place you in a state of “flow” and give you a sense of mastery and purpose.  You will then be motivated to move on to the next challenge just beyond your comfort zone, which is the opposite of what repetitive treadmill workouts will do to your motivation.







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