Trick yourself into enjoying exercise

04 July 2017

People find exercise less strenuous if they believe it is doing them good.

People find exercise less strenuous if they believe it is doing them good, researchers claim.

Academics from the Department of Sport Science at the University of Freiburg in Germany have discovered that expectations of sport or exercise have an influence on how difficult a participant finds it.

For a study, the researchers enlisted 78 men and women, aged between 18 and 32, and instructed them to wear a sleeveless compression shirt made by a "well-known sporting goods manufacturer".

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The participants were then randomly shown short films which stressed the positive effects of cycling and wearing a compression shirt or dampened the expectations, before cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes.

Every five minutes the cyclists were asked what level of exertion they were experiencing and how they rated the exercise.

Accordingly, lead author and psychologist Hendrik Mothes and his team found that those participants who had been primed about the benefits of cycling rated the test less strenuous and the more athletic the participants perceived themselves to be, the stronger this effect was.

However, the researchers also found that how the person doing the sport felt about themselves played a big role in feeling strain.

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And it seems that it can sometimes be smart to enlist help from supposedly useful sports products - if you believe in them.

"Merely the belief that the shirt would help did help the 'unsporty' subjects to have a lower perception of strenuousness during the exercise," Mothes explained.

The researchers also stated that the study results indicate further evidence that the placebo effect works when it comes to sport.

Full results of the study have been published in journal PLOS ONE.

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