This Science-Backed Workout Hack Is All About Your Brain, Not Just Your Body
Even if you're a fitness enthusiast, sometimes, it can feel like a battle to get out of bed and put your sneakers on. That's why this weird workout hack that emphasis your brain over your body has a lot of people talking. Based on recent research from University of Colorado researcher Bethany Kwan, who found that manipulating you mind to like exercise helps you actually do it, the idea is this: That if we convince our brains that we enjoy exercise and see positive benefits, we will be more likely to workout — even before we see those changes actually occur in our bodies. Talk about mind over matter, right?
Kwan's research design is pretty fascinating: She and her team recruited 98 study participants between the ages of 18 and 45 and had them run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a rate designed to put them nearly out of breath. This is where the "mind manipulation" comes into play: A third of these participants were given positive reinforcement with the intention of making them feel good about their workout.
Participants were told to continue doing the same regime for a week following the initial experiment. Researchers discovered that those who were "manipulated" in the lab shower more positive feelings through the run itself, and remembered the fun as less fatiguing afterwards. So in short: Tell yourself you like your workout, and you might actually... start to like your workout.
So, what does this mean? Well, to begin with, people exercise for all kinds of reasons. For some people, exercise is about burning energy, and for others, it's for mental clarity. Regardless to what your specific goals are, though, plenty of people make New Year's resolutions based around exercise and end up dropping them within a few weeks or months.
Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with dropping a resolution, no matter what it is, because people change and so do our priorities. I also think that you shouldn't push your body to do what it doesn't want to do. However, learning mental hacks that focus on your outlook and attitude more so than your body can be really useful in all aspects of life, including exercise.
When it comes to picking up a new skill, it can be easy to become discouraged or feel very critical of yourself, especially at the beginning. If you "manipulate" your own mind to feel positive about it even before you start seeing positive results, you might find yourself sticking with it longer and feeling better about it overall.
While study researchers acknowledge that one week worth of running isn't enough to establish a long-term change in behavior, it definitely does suggest that the power of positive thinking has some truth to it. So whether you're trying a new exercise or working on a new skill or hobby, don't forget to be gentle with yourself and give yourself positive vibes instead of negative, critical ones, especially when you're a beginner.