Your body loves to play games. It loves little more than to pretend. It fakes being low in energy, so exercise feels like an insurmountable chore. You just can’t bring yourself to do it. But then you do it and you feel amazing. You’re recharged like you just received a Red Bull enema. Energy levels are sky high. What about tomorrow? Well, the cycle restarts.

Your body fakes happiness, the way you do when you open a birthday card and don’t find any cash money in it. Truthfully, it’s hurting and wants a break. Muscles are a little sore. However, you’re buoyed by the positive memory of the previous day’s training session, so you go again. This is the game of spiders and flies your body plays. If you want to live to be old enough to secure a position on your porch’s rocking chair then you better play nice.


Exercise does play fair

There’s plenty of mixed messages dished out by your body. Instead of telling you how awesome exercise is for your health and that you’ll feel amazing once you get going, your body behaves ambiguously. It wants to remain idle, much to your disadvantage. It’s your job to see through your body’s parlor tricks and get moving. However, you need to move strategically because exercise shouldn’t feel like a job. In fact, a new paper in the European Heart Journal found getting your exercise quote for the day shouldn’t be from your job. Instead, your heart likes it better if you’re exercising in your leisure time. In fact, sweating while you’re at work, does your heart a great disservice. Thinking that you’re getting enough exercise thanks to your day job is a false economy. Huh? How do your muscles know the difference? They do and much of that lies in your mindset.


Game theory of exercise

Exercise needs to feel fun. When you’re doing something that you view as manual labor where you need to move to earn your daily bread, that’s when the fun stops. However, taking a nice long walk in a wooded area where your brain has an opportunity to switch off lets you destress. Conversely, lifting something heavy under the conditions of work stress only creates higher increases in blood pressure that can last for many hours afterwards. This extra blood pressure is unquestionably linked to heart disease – the biggest killer of men and women. Do that same volume of exercise at an even higher intensity, like doing interval training with weights, and your blood pressure decreases. Why? It’s because you want to do it and see it as fun. Your body is in tune with your perceptions of things. It can trick you, but you can’t trick it.


Action plan

So, even if you’re exercising plenty on the job, it’s wise to take some time each day to do a little recovery exercise afterwards. The idea that you’re entitled to exercise by sitting on the couch and lifting the lid off something fizzy isn’t smart. Rather eat a delicious high protein snack with a coffee, get outside and give your body and mind a session. The act of pairing a tasty reward food with exercise will forge a lasting habit that will keep you healthier from the inside out.