It’s funny how the instant you try to stick to a healthy diet, the more you start craving anything and everything you’re trying to avoid. Well, if your attempts at self-control feel somewhat lacking (i.e., you have trouble stepping off the sugar struggle bus), there’s one thing that might help: exercise.
In a small two-experiment study, researchers looked at the psychological effects of exercise and found it can actually help people control impulses. Each week, the participants completed questionnaires, which researchers used to measure their ability to choose long-term benefits as opposed to immediate rewards.
The findings revealed that those who exercised regularly had much more self-control than those who didn’t. In fact, the as a participant exercised more, their self-control increased—and the effects lasted the duration of the exercise routine.
Participants spanned “all different ages, BMIs, incomes, and mental-health levels, and these studies suggested that nearly every single person improved.”
Participants spanned “all different ages, BMIs, incomes, and mental-health levels, and these studies suggested that nearly every single person improved,” said lead study author Michael Sofis in a press release. Though more research and evidence are required for conclusive results, it’s undeniable that participants did, in fact, show progress, he continued.
Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to matter how you’re exercising as long as you’re doing it: Sofis said that whether participants walked or ran, no matter their age, most did show heightened signs of self-control with increased exercise.
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