Willpower Is Overrated - The Health Benefits of Being Lazy

Simpson family
The Simpsons

I know that it will take a considerable amount of effort to pick up your tablet to read this article, but bear with me: I’m going to tell you how to excuse your laziness. If you sit up and dust the chip crumbs off your chest, I’d appreciate it, but I know you’ll revert back to a reclined position promptly, so save yourself the effort. These are the benefits of being lazy.

Nature proves it

Look at the sloth: it’s so goddamn lazy that scientists named it after the actual mass noun used to describe inaction. These guys are so slow and lethargic that algae grow on their backs, but instead of being bothered to clean it off, they leave it there helping them blend into their green surroundings. Contrary to evolutionary logic, their species has been living the easy life for around 10,000 years. Actually, back in the day, scientists say they even grew to the size of a small elephant. They spend the majority of their lives in the sloth equivalent of a ratty couch, treetops, and sleep for about 15 to 20 hours a day, only waking up to eat. Intermittently, they’ll leave their comfy tree-couch to relieve themselves and take a swim. But even the laziest amongst us occasionally leaves their habitat (of the stained couch) to poo and shower. They live a long (for the animal kingdom) 30 years of idleness.

If you need another example of slow-moving animals that live for a very, very long time, take a look at the tortoise. Specifically, the Galápagos Tortoise lives for an average of 100 years but have been recorded to live up to 150 years in captivity. Just being the animal kingdom’s kings of longevity doesn’t seem quite enough for these humongous reptiles, though, as they are also the Kings of Lazy: they sleep for 16+ hours a day, and eat through the rest of the day. I know you’re already a little jealous of them, but let me make you want to be reincarnated as one of these beasts: they have enough stores of water and such a slow metabolism that they can survive an entire year without eating or drinking. Imagine how many episodes of The Simpsons you could get through if you didn’t have to bother with the arduous task of nourishing yourself.

Nature proves it (again)

All animals, no matter what species or how lazy, are genetically hardwired to eat the highest calorie food available to them and expend the least amount of energy doing so. You can do this simple experiment to prove it. Place a bowl of Doritos on your chest as you lie on your back watching Downtown Abbey; now take a second bowl filled with kale, and place it just outside arm’s reach on a coffee table or side table. Now, see which bowl you prefer to eat out of. Of course, it’s the one on your chest. First, it’s full of deliciously salty and high calorie Doritos and, secondly, you don’t even have to raise a finger to eat one. By the way, kudos on how quickly you figured out that you can tip the bowl with your chin and then extend your lips like a grizzly bear to eat the chips. I got to give it to you: although lazy, you are pretty dexterous.

It might just be semantics

What is laziness? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “disinclined to activity or exertion.” Exertion means expending either physical or mental energy on a task. Now think of your hobby or something that pleases you: does that make you feel like you’re exerting yourself? Of course not; for example, people that garden are basically nonproducing farmers. I say nonproducing because they don’t actually cultivate anything that can be traded, sold or eaten. Their toils, though, are rewarded in aesthetics and a feeling of accomplishment. Not so worthless-sounding anymore. There are innumerable mental benefits to minimizing stress through “idle” activities done during free time. Oh, and I’m sure you already know the actual health benefits of reducing stress, right?

Exercise is so, well, exerting

Everyone constantly talks and boasts about all the benefits of exercise, but physical exertion can actually physically hurt you. Exercise puts stress on joints, bones, ligaments, muscles, and even the mind. OK, it balances out its mental effort with the benefits of having a butt-load of happy hormones dumped into your bloodstream following exercise, but it’s still taxing. Even professional athletes have what are called “recovery days”. Just consider yourself a professional athlete on a perpetual “recovery day” while “calorie loading” on some cookies and cream Häagen-Dazs. Boom, it’s all about perspective.


Although drifting off while watching TV is usually the realm of retirees and narcoleptics, taking a short nap during the day has tons of benefits. It’s almost like your body is rewarding you for being lazy! A half-hour nap can sharpen mental faculties, boost the body’s immune system, and counteract effects of poor night’s sleep. It can even improve your emotional state, memory, and productivity. Unfortunately, you’re not really all that productive anyway, so you’ll probably never notice that specific benefit.

Motivation and laziness

Sometimes, the reasons behind laziness are deeply seeded in your (admittedly abnormal) psyche. Being lazy might be a wakeup call about your stage in life or your overall satisfaction. It might indicate that you are demotivated, disheartened, and just plain fed-up, so you retreat into your shell (which is your dirty couch) like a centenarian tortoise. Or you’re just plain lazy. It’s fine. I gave you enough excuses during this entire article for you to finally own up to it.

Are you incorrigibly lazy? Do enjoy spending hours on your back while watching back-to-back episodes of The Walking Dead? How do you excuse your laziness to your family and friends? Let me know in the comments section below, since I’m slowly running out of excuses of my own.