Why do people give up on their exercise goals? This has been a question tackled by researchers for years now, writes The New York Times’ Gretchen Reynolds. Our basic understanding is that folks who give up on fitness generally don’t draw much innate excitement or pleasure from exercise. There’s only so much you’ll be willing to put yourself through of something you don’t enjoy. Conversely, those who exercise regularly can be said to draw satisfaction from the act and thus stick to it. This may sound like Psychology 101 — we pursue what makes us happy — but the question at the heart of the matter remains puzzling: How do you get people who don’t innately enjoy exercise to find a reason to keep going?
Enter: mindfulness. The authors of a new study out of the Netherlands explain how existing in a deliberate state of “awareness of what is happening in the present moment” can affect one’s satisfaction when working out. The joy and pleasure derived by regular exercisers is likely connected to an ability to feel “in the zone” and be cognizant of physical activity. For those to whom this isn’t inherent, the solution is to train your brain to become more aware:
“‘The message is that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent,’ says Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Utrecht University who led the study. ‘For those experiences to be noticed,’ she continued, ‘one must become aware of them. We would argue that this can be achieved by being mindful.'”
Read more at The New York Times.
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