Tell Yourself You’re Feeling Good For Longer Workouts

Tell Yourself You’re Feeling Good For Longer Workouts

There’s a lot of weird stuff that happens to our brains when we work out. For example, when you’re working out, it helps to keep telling yourself that you are “feeling good” and “doing well”, new research suggests. Telling yourself this, especially as well into your exercise, will keep you from feeling exhausted quickly as scientists say that your brain tells your body it’s tired before your body is actually tired.

Studies with rodents have led scientists to theorize that exercise-related fatigue is a function of the mind more than the body, as even after being pushed till the rodents dropped, their muscles still had some reserves of fuel. Researchers from University of Kent in Canterbury, England, studied two groups of volunteers to check how long they could pedal to the point of exhaustion. One group was told to talk to themselves with motivational phrases like “you’re doing well” and “feeling good”.

Afterward, it was obvious that self-talk had bolstered riders’ feelings and performance.

On one level, these findings indicate that “motivational self-talk improves endurance performance compared to not using it,” said Samuele Marcora, the director of exercise research at the University of Kent and senior author of the study.

“If the point in time at which people stop exercising was determined solely biologically,” he said, self-talk would have no effect. But it did.

The most effective form of the method is to be consistent and systematic, according to Marcora, by using phrases often and on a schedule, especially towards the fag end of a workout.

Keep Telling Yourself, ‘This Workout Feels Good’ [The New York Times]


  • An element of potential Hawthorne effect here. Being encouraged (to encourage themselves) might have influenced endurance too.

    Interesting hypothesis … somewhat more difficult to put into practice when sweat is stinging your eyes and your muscles are burning. I’d imagine it takes a fair amount of mental discipline to coach yourself through that … but presumably higher level and elite athletes already do. I’m just a regular Joe and rely on a personal trainer to do the “self-talk” for me.

  • For me, exercise has always been a battle of mind over body. You’ve got to learn to push yourself, and then pushing yourself becomes a habit. You CAN do it, you just don’t know it yet! I’ve always loved being active, but I’ve not discovered this till very recently and it’s helped me a lot!
    Maybe it’s just me?

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