Obesity and not wanting to move

After my post yesterday, I had a couple people comment that they are overweight and that being heavier simply makes it much harder, more painful (on joints and such) and more of a struggle (breathing heavy, sweating, etc) to move your body.
Thus, the idea is that it actually makes logical sense and is not unreasonable that heavier people would make efforts to move their bodies less to avoid that pain/struggle.
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First, let me say that these observations are UNDOUBTEDLY CORRECT.
It is absolutely 100% true that if you’re heavier, it’s harder and more painful to move your body.
It is by the way, also true that obesity results in neurological changes that cause fatigue and make one less likely to want to move their bodies.
It is also known that obese people generally are less inclined to move their bodies from a genetic perspective as well. (NEAT–spontaneous physical activity–is strongly influenced by genetics).
So it’s important to recognize that there are actually very real physiological mechanisms going on that make overweight people less inclined to move their bodies, and more inclined to look for ways to avoid movement.
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HERE’S THE BIG PROBLEM: BY AVOIDING MOVEMENT, YOU’RE MAKING THE PROBLEM WORSE… MUCH WORSE!
The human body is a dynamic living adaptive substance. It is constantly adapting to it’s environment.
*** If you go to altitude, the body ADAPTS by increasing red blood cell count to carry more oxygen.
*** If you lift heavy objects, the body ADAPTS by growing muscle to get stronger and lift heavy objects with greater ease.
*** If you run or swim or cycle long distances, the body ADAPTS by increasing the heart’s ability to pump blood and increasing capillaries and mitochondria in muscle to have greater endurance.
The body is ALWAYS adapting to the environmental stimuli you subject it to.
Likewise, if you are a weight lifter and you’ve built a lot of muscle, and then you STOP lifting weights for several months, you RAPIDLY LOSE THAT ADAPTATION (strength and muscle).
Similarly, if you are a runner or cyclist and you get those adaptations mentioned above, and then you STOP running or cycling, YOU RAPIDLY LOSE ALL OF THOSE ADAPTATIONS.
The point: YOU MUST HAVE THE STIMULUS REGULARLY IF YOU WANT TO MAINTAIN THE ADAPTATION. I.e. USE IT OR LOSE IT!
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Personal story: I myself love to rock climb. Yet, I am absolutely NOT built like a rock climber! I am 200 pounds. There aren’t any elite rock climbers who weigh anywhere close to that much. The elite male rock climbers usually weigh somewhere between 125-160 pounds. They are the same height as me and generally 50 pounds lighter.
Why do I bring this up?
There is a reason that no elite rock climbers are anywhere close to as heavy as I am. Because being heavy while rock climbing is a HUGE DISADVANTAGE–it means more weight to drag up a cliff, and more pressure, stress, and PAIN on the finger joints.
Like obese people being in pain when they do physical movement, I also struggle with intense physical pain while rock climbing on routes that have very small holds that put all the pressure on the first joint of the fingers.
I am extremely strong and athletic, but just because of my size, there are guys who are skinny as rails who have no muscle on their bodies who can do things while rock climbing on that kind of route that I just CANNOT DO because they put my finger joints/tendons in too much pain and would cause me to tear my tendons.
So I have a choice: I can say that since it puts me in pain to do those routes with tiny holds, I am just not going to do any of it, or maybe stop rock climbing all together.
OR …
I can understand that my body is constantly ADAPTING to its environment, and by continuing to expose my body to that stimulus, I will eventually get my finger joints/tendons strong enough to handle the stress of carrying my bodyweight on tiny holds.
(And I can understand that by NOT continuing to practice on tiny holds, I WILL LOSE ALL OF THE STRENGTH THAT I HAVE ALREADY DEVELOPED IN MY JOINTS/TENDONS AND BECOME TOTALLY UNFIT AND INCAPABLE OF DOING IT).
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Here’s the point: If you’re overweight, you are in the exact same situation.
Yes, your body naturally wants to move less as you get heavier, and yes, it becomes more painful and more of a struggle to do it.
BUT… If you listen to those signals from your body and stop moving so much, your body will LOSE whatever little adaptations for moving you have and IT WILL BECOME EVEN HARDER AND MORE PAINFUL TO MOVE.
Where does that lead? It leads to rapidly declining metabolic health, loss of vitality/energy, crappy mood, poor quality of life, and lots of diseases.
The more you choose not to move, the harder it becomes to move. Everyday you look for opportunities not to move, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE.
It is a vicious cycle. The less you move, the more fatigued you feel, the more pain and struggle you feel when you do try to move, and THE LESS YOU WANT TO MOVE, ad infinitum.
Yes, it is harder for you. But that’s all the more reason that you have to start doing it NOW.
The longer you wait, the harder it will get to reverse your way out of that vicious cycle.
Remember that your body is ALWAYS ADAPTING–both to activity and inactivity. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to do it. The less you do it, the harder it becomes to do it.
So start now. It is never too late. Start wherever you’re at, with baby steps and build from there.
Now is the time to turn the vicious downward cycle into a positive upward cycle.
The more you look for opportunities to move, the fitter your heart/lungs/joints/tendons/muscles become for movement, the leaner you become, the more energetic you become and THE MORE YOU WANT TO MOVE EVEN MORE.

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