If you’ve found that physical exercise is hard for you, you’re not alone. And, there is a free and easy solution to make it easier.
Social psychologist Emily Balcetis studied why some people find exercise harder than others and discovered that it’s all in how we perceive things, which she reveals in her TED talk.
So dieters, for instance, see apples as larger than people who are not counting calories.
Softball players see the ball as smaller if they’ve just come out of a slump, compared to people who had a hot night at the plate.
And actually, our political beliefs also can affect the way we see other people, including politicians.
Balcetis and her research team tested two hypotheses in their study, where participants estimated the walking distance toward a finish line.
The hypotheses were:
1| Does an individual’s physical state (unfit vs. fit) change perception of distance? It does, unfit people thought the finish line was farther than fitter people.
2| And, if people are highly motivated with strong goals, does it change the perceived distance of the finish line? Yes, yes it does. Motivated but unfit individuals thought the finish line was closer than unmotivated, unfit individuals.
How to Make Exercise Easier
The free solution to making exercise easier, they found, was to “keep your eye on the prize“, a directive to focus solely on the finish line, rather than on surroundings.
People who kept their eyes on the prize saw the finish line as 30 percent closer than people who looked around as they naturally would.
And to test the overall experience of exercise, the research team told study participants to walk toward the finish line while wearing extra weights. The result, according to Emily Balcetis,
People who kept their eyes on the prize told us afterward that it required 17 percent less exertion for them to do this exercise than people who looked around naturally.
It changed their subjective experience of the exercise. It also changed the objective nature of their exercise.
People who kept their eyes on the prize actually moved 23 percent faster than people who looked around naturally.
Have you tried “keeping your eye on the prize”? What has made exercise easier for you? Leave a comment below!