New research shows that icons of power avoid exercise if possible, says Florence Read
Grizzly bears are naturally lazy. At least that’s what a study published last week in the Journal Of Experimental Biology claims. The study presents data on how a set of grizzly bears used their energy both in the wild and when placed on a treadmill. What researchers found was that bears would go out of their way to avoid strenuous exercise, particularly when faced with sharp inclines. The bears were discovered, on the whole, to have the same interest (or disinterest) in exercise as the average human. Or the average Idler reader, by the look of the treadmill pictures.
The idea of laziness being ingrained in biology is really quite revolutionary. It suggests that the way we have historically viewed some behavioural differences between humans and animals are simply false. A (misconceived) perception of animals ruthlessly competing for dominance has been used as a model for success in human society, so it has bigger implications than just confirming that the laid-back Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington are actually quite accurate bear representations.
The association between notions of survival of the fittest and our capitalistic work ethic is clear. Corporations help to hammer this message home. Just look at all the businesses with go-getting animals in their names: Puma trainers, Red Bull energy drinks and Jaguar sports cars. Or in media with TV shows like Shark Tank and self-help books with titles like Be The Lion: How To Overcome Big Challenges And Make It Happen. Corporate marketers love nothing more than to co-opt animals as the unwitting face of the anti-idle agenda. Bears are used to evoke ideas of speed, power and brute-force competition. I assume the Memphis Grizzlies and the Chicago Cubs don’t saunter around the basketball court or baseball field, looking for a picnic basket to rummage through. But, according to this evidence, they should.
The Idler’s logo is a snail, second only to the sloth in its lackadaisical reputation. Maybe this is a moment to reclaim bigger, scarier, cooler animals as allies to the cause of idleness, rather than figureheads of striverism. Clearly, when it comes to grizzly bears, we idle creatures might have more in common than we thought.