Lorn Healthy Options weekly health tip – September 2

Rob Graham, lead exercise professional at Healthy Options.

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?
Subscribe Now

The law of least effort

Different continents are different shapes…stay with me.

Europe, The Middle East and Asia form a more east to west block of land than the very much north to south block of the Americas.

This led to a very distinct difference in the spread of agriculture across these land masses. Farmers in Europe, Middle East and Asia domesticated various crops and then found it relatively easy to grow the same crops in similar climates with similar rainfall and sunshine by moving sideways around the globe.

Obviously this spread was more difficult when you are trying to spread crops in a more northerly direction within the Americas as you encounter much colder and harsher conditions. Basically it takes more effort to find alternative crops or develop new growing strategies and so the spread of agriculture was much more stunted in this continent.

We refer to this as the law of least effort.

We often think that it takes a huge level of motivation to start new healthy lifestyle habits but actually our real motivation is to be lazy and follow the path of most convenience.

Just look at any activity which takes up large periods of your time and you’ll see that it has been engineered to be as easy as possible.  Scrolling through social media on your phone, browsing the internet or watching TV are perfect examples of activities which require very little effort. Unfortunately they also burn very few calories and play a huge role in our current obesity epidemic.

So why not use the very same law of least effort to our advantage when starting a new lifestyle habit?

From a standing start with no experience it takes a huge effort to start running 5K a day. When motivation is high over the first few days we may complete this goal but as energy wains the effort required to maintain such a high expectation can be overwhelming.

Starting with a 1km brisk walk each day is much easier to complete and a more realistic goal. This gives us a better chance of first developing the habit and then gradually increasing the distance and speed until we can manage a 5K run both physically and mentally.

Increase you chances of success even further by priming your environment with time saving acts such as having your walking/running kit ready to go, trainers at the door and iPod loaded with your favourite songs. Remove obstacles, remove friction and benefit from the law of least effort.  Make it possible, make it easy.

For the full message go to the free resource section on the lornhealthyoptions.co.uk website.

Rob Graham, Lead Exercise Professional, Healthy Options.