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It can feel good lounging around and doing nothing, sometimes too good. Whether it's to avoid work or escape physical activity, we all have those days. But why are some people lazier than others? Is there a couch potato gene that causes lazy behavior? Evolution has molded our brains and bodies to respond positively to natural rewards such as food, sex and even exercise. Wait...Exercise?
Yep, the pleasure we experience comes largely from the dopamine system in our brain which can conveys these messages throughout the body, ultimately helping to ensure the survival of our species. For many, the pleasure derived from exercise can just become as addictive as food and sex. But while we are all up for more food and sex, many struggle with the desire for physical activity, even though it's in the central part of human biology.
Scientists studying mice have found an interesting genetic connection. After separating mice into 2 groups, those that chose to run on their wheel more often and those that decided not to run as much. The difference was clear in their offspring. After 10 generations, the running mice would run on their wheels, 75% more often than the other group and by 16 generations, they were running 7 miles a day as opposed to average 4 miles. It's seems their motivation for activity was genetic.
We all inherit genes from our parents that play a key role in development of our brains, and these genes can make some literally crave activity. In fact, the brains of the running mice have larger dopamine systems and regions that deal with motivation and reward. They needed activity; otherwise their brains would react similar to a drug-addicted rodent when deprived of cocaine or nicotine. They were genetically addicted to running.
We also inherit genes responsible for our other traits, from impulsivity to procrastination to work ethic and straight up laziness. And it turns out our physical laziness may be linked to "Couch Potato Gene, "or rather, a mutation in a normal gene which regulate activity revels. This gene is responsible for a type of dopamine receptor. Without it, you are more likely to prefer sitting around and simple doing less than those who has the properly functioning gene.
So the truth is, your desire for activity may not be entirely up to you. But many environmental factors are also at play which means you aren't domed to a life of laziness. Although making a change will be harder for some, knowledge is power. So if you think you are genetically lazy, get off the couch and fight your DNA. Your brain will reward you in the end.