Study: Obesity Kills Natural Impulse to Exercise

Study: Obesity Kills Natural Impulse to Exercise

For all the folks out there whose News Year resolution is to lose some pounds by hitting the gym, a group of researchers wanted to know whether the extra fat can influence the zeal to exercise. And their findings may give “fat and lazy” a new meaning.

Until now, it was unclear whether inactivity promoted weight gain or it was the other way around. A recent study suggests there is a vicious cycle between inactivity and excess weight. The latest analysis found that obesity can hijack the brain’s natural impulse to exercise. Other factors may play a role too such as leisure time, peer support, and safe spaces. Unlike these external factors, obesity seems to kill motivation from within.

Scientists found obesity alters the receptors for dopamine, a chemical substance in the brain that regulates mood, appetite, and movement. A mouse study revealed that obese rodents end up coach potatoes.

The team found the extra fat mice put on due to high-fat diets disrupted a key dopamine receptor in the area of the brain responsible for motor control and reward-seeking activity. Researchers reported that obese mice were less likely to exercise than their leaner counterparts.

Next, study authors wanted to check whether the dopamine receptor had something to do with the low level of motivation in obese animals. So, they shut down the receptor in slim mice to see what happens. As a result, slim mice lost interest in exercising too and began avoiding the running wheel. Nevertheless, they didn’t end up obese.

When the team turned on the receptor in obese mice, the animals become more interested in moving around in their cages.

The experiment, which was reported Dec. 29 in Cell Metabolism, concluded inactivity does not directly lead to obesity. And since the dopamine receptor’s activity is not the same in all humans it is not true that all lazy people will get fat.

Instead, it is very likely that obesity kills someone’s natural impulse to move. So, excess weight not only makes us more sedentary, but it can promote other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

In addition, the excess weight affects the way the brain perceives the rewards we naturally get from exercising. So, it is no wonder that at some point overweight people lose interest in workout.

Furthermore, the modern lifestyle forces us to sit for hours and not exercise. A recent report shows that 30 percent of America’s population have a fully sedentary lifestyle. This means that they do not exercise on their own at all. Moreover, 80 percent of U.S. adults fail to meet official recommendations on weekly workout. A study found that couch potatoes pay on average $1,437 more in medical costs every year than their active peers.

In America, one in three adults is obese so inactivity is all the more of a public health issue since it can lead to diabetes and heart conditions. And the new study may provide a helpful tool in restoring those people’s lost love for movement.
Image Source: Pixabay