“In the United States, daily physical activity—as captured by an accelerometer—is correlated with a sense of purpose in life. Real-time tracking also shows that people are happier during moments when they are physically active than when they are sedentary. And on days when people are more active than their usual, they report greater satisfaction with their lives.
Other experiments in the U.S. and UK have forced moderately active adults to become sedentary for a period of time, only to watch their well-being wither. Regular exercisers who replace physical activity with a sedentary activity for two weeks become more anxious, tired, and hostile. When adults are randomly assigned to reduce their daily step count, 88 percent become more depressed. Within one week of becoming more sedentary, they report a 31 percent decline in life satisfaction. The average daily step count required to induce feelings of anxiety and depression and decrease satisfaction with life is 5,649. The typical American takes 4,774 steps per day. Across the globe, the average is 4,961.”
That’s from Chapter 1 which is called “The Persistence High.”
You know that “runner’s high” we hear so much about? Well, it’s real. Only, it’s DEFINITELY not restricted to just runners and it’s a lot more powerful than just a few endorphins being released.
As Kelly says: “Anything that keeps you moving and increases your heart rate is enough to trigger nature’s reward for not giving up. There’s no objective measure of performance you must achieve, no pace or distance you need to reach, that determines whether you experience an exercise-induced euphoria. You just have to do something that is moderately difficult for you and stick with it for at least twenty minutes. That’s because the runner’s high isn’t a running high. It’s a persistence high.”
Right before that passage above Kelly tells a story about the Hadza—a hunter-gatherer society in Tanzania whose “survival depends on strategies similar to those that early humans relied on.”
Get this: “On a typical day, the Hadza engage in two hours of moderate to vigorous activity, like running, and several more hours of light activity, like walking. There is no difference in activity level between men and women or between young and old. If anything, the Hadza become more active as they age. Contrast this to the United States, where the average adult engages in less than ten minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, and physical activity peaks at age six. If the Hadza lifestyle reflects what human bodies are adapted for, something has gone seriously awry for the rest of us.” <- Wow.
Alright. All of that is worth a repeat/recap/reflection.
The average Hadza is (moderately to vigorously) active for HOURS a day while the average American is active for TEN MINUTES per day.
And… Perhaps most shocking: “The average daily step count required to induce feelings of anxiety and depression and decrease satisfaction with life is 5,649. The typical American takes 4,774 steps per day. Across the globe, the average is 4,961.”
Which kinda begs the question: How many steps are YOU getting per day?! (I didn’t know about the fact that scientists actually identified a THRESHOLD (!) for depression (yikes!) when we set our baseline target of 10,000 steps a day for our Optimize Coaches but now I’m even more bullish on the importance of bringing attention to a simple measure of movement!)
Then we have that study where they got active people to NOT move/exercise. What happened? They IMMEDIATELY became more anxious, tired, hostile and depressed. YIKES.
It’s funny, because, having been a non-exercising and much more “anxious, tired, hostile and depressed” version of myself, I’ve often jokingly said that you couldn’t PAY me to NOT exercise. As it turns out, the researchers conducting studies like that often ran into challenges finding people willing to not exercise! I’m not alone.
So… One more time. Back to you. You moving? Let’s get those hope molecules flowing and that persistence high rocking. TODAY.