Living like a lazy recluse may be a sign of high intelligence. A team of researchers from Florida Gulf Coast University studied a group of college students to figure out if there was any merit behind the high school stereotyped dumb jocks and bookworm nerds. Their findings, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, reveal why non-thinkers are often more engaged in physical activity compared to those who’d rather curl up on the couch with a good book.

For the study, researchers recruited 60 students and asked them to take an online test in order to sort out the thinkers from the non-thinkers. The test asked participants to rate from strongly they agreed or disagreed on statements like: “I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions” and “I only think as hard as I have to.” Next, each participant wore an accelerometer for seven days in order to measure how physically active they were. It turns out from Monday through Friday those in the thinking group were far less active compared to the non-thinkers. There was no difference between the two groups on the weekend.

"Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness,” the study’s authors wrote. "Awareness of their tendency to be less active, coupled with an awareness of the cost associated with inactivity, more thoughtful people may then choose to become more active throughout the day."

Researchers theorize that non-thinkers were more likely to become bored with the prospect of sitting in one spot to ponder life and abstract thoughts, which leads them to gravitate towards sports and other physical activities. Because of this, physically active people had the proclivity to suppress and push aside their thoughts, especially if it required time to work out. Meanwhile, thinkers are more likely to engage difficult or challenging thoughts. They spend more time unraveling the spools of reflective, introspective ideas within their minds and end up detangling problems and creating solutions.

Previous research reveals that, in general, introverts prefer being alone, which gives them more time to think. Those with more intelligence seek out the time and solitude to utilize it. Frequent social interaction detracts from their ability to explore their minds, which is why they are much less likely to socialize or seek activities that will preoccupy their thought-provoked brain.

Aside from being a couch potato, there are other signs of intelligence, like sarcasm, wit, and creativity. Read here.

Source: The physical sacrifice of thinking: Investigating the relationship between thinking and physical activity in everyday life. Journal of Health Psychology. 2016.

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