The Path of Least Resistance.

The path of least resistance…….By Dave Kuhlman NASM CPT ELITE X TRAINING.
Like the title says, humans are genetically designed to find the easiest possible route to survive every situation life throws at them. In primal survival mode, cavemen and cave women invented clothing and stone tools for hunting and fishing. Over the thousands of years that followed, everything ‘man’ invented or discovered was geared to simplify and ease the work load involved to continue their daily existences. The Industrial Age brought forth mechanisation that not only gave us power in the palm of our hands, but as a byproduct, nearly eliminated the very need for self locomotion. We could simply hop in the car and drive to our destination. Very little walking, running or let alone riding a horse needed!
Today we no longer have to ‘run to live’ (see the book ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall) we only need to drive to the grocery store or Target or WalMart for what we (want) need.
We have ‘advanced’ to such a point that out daily lives are cluttered (filled) with all sorts of gadgets and devices to help us lead easier and simpler lives…. Let alone have to interact with other humans face to face! All this innovation and advancement which started with the initial goal of smoothing the path of resistance to ease survival has now become detrimental to our very physical health and well being.

In my daily life I take advantage of this locomotion literally by commuting via the train. This enables me to work a job 25 miles from my home which aids my survival in a different manner. This is the upside to all the inventions we have, and without it, I might not enjoy the life I have. Counter to that, my point is despite the positive angle to these ‘inventions’ we have become overly dependent upon machines and thusly lazy, many times looking for the easiest path not only for our work destination but every place we go physically and mentally and nutritionally during our day.

Starting with my journey into the city I watch as people position themselves on the train that results in jockeying for the smallest distance to boarding and unboarding. Fast forward to arrival in the city. We all head down the stairs at Ogilvie station. There are a set of double doors at the bottom of the stairwell. I have seen on numerous occasions where only one of the doors has been pushed open and two people side by side will try and squeeze through the same door without using the unopened door! This always blows my mind! On my way home I watch as a crowd of people will wait in line for the escalator, which most of them will stand on instead of walking up. They completely avoid the adjacent empty staircase! Bad knees aside, I’m betting most could take the stairs but simply choose the easy, mechanised option. It goes on and on through our daily lives…. Like water flowing downhill, most of us opt for the ‘Path of least resistance’ to get where we need to be. We take the easiest possible choice really without thinking about it!

Like I mentioned before, we are genetically predisposed to do this and may want/desperately need to consider a change of tack if we want to live healthier lives and be in better shape physically and emotionally. It takes a conscious choice to break this cycle that we typically put aside as we engage our “genetic autopilot” to find the most efficient route.

To this point, I have not mentioned this same principal also applies to feeding ourselves as well. I’m loosely referencing author Michael Pollan (in defense of food) when I say, ‘we only turned over our responsibility to others for our food sourcing and preparation in the last century or so…. Did Abe Lincoln and his family zip over to Jewel to grab something to make for dinner?? ‘Obviously they didn’t. They grew their own food or at very least knew a local farmer or butcher. This is another example of leaving conscious choice behind and relying on the soft option.
My overall point to all this is; ‘as you go through your daily life, take a look at your choices pertaining to transportation, self locomotion and diet. Could you take the stairs and burn an extra 15 calories? Could you walk to the train? Could you take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator? Could you start your own backyard garden next summer???
You may already be doing some of these and kudos to you. By the same token, I take many shortcuts in my daily life as well, but I am trying with each opportunity to make the choice that results in bettering my health. You won’t always succeed but imagine if you just switched to hitting that staircase just once a day on the way home…and added walking to and from the train. ( my walk is just under 1 mile each way 4 times per day) Hopefully making these small amendments will invigorate and inspire your mind to find more ways to include exercise and healthful choices throughout your day while paying closer attention to what and how you eat even while you’re cruising Facebook on your smartphone! As I said, I’m writing this as a guide for myself as well. I often fail to make the wisest choices, but I’m certainly trying to be more mindful every day! Good health to you and take those stairs! Dave Kuhlman. NASM CPT at EliteXTraining Lombard.

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