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Run That Extra Mile — You're As Strong As You Think You Are

November 13, 2013
Shana Lebowitz

According to a new study, that familiar feeling of exercise fatigue can be easily overcome with nothing but a shift in mindset. Participants who engaged in “self-talk,” specifically with mantras like “Feeling Good" and "Push Through This," not only outperformed their peers in a cycling test, but also perceived the workout as easier.

The study adds to a growing body of research on the “psychobiological model” of exercise-related fatigue, or the idea that the mind and the body each have a role in determining how much exercise we can tolerate before we feel pooped. And it’s not just cycling: Across different sports, including rugby and swimming, athletes who stay motivated with positive self-talk perform significantly better than their peers who don’t.

In the most recent study, researchers reported that no matter which mantra the volunteers chose, they cycled longer than the people who didn’t choose any. These results suggest it doesn’t matter exactly what we’re telling ourselves (“You go, hot stuff!”) as long as we’re engaging in some kind of self-motivation.

Finding it hard to ignore the negative thoughts? Psychologists say it’s okay to acknowledge those comments — and then turn our attention elsewhere. One of these inspiring mantras should do the trick.