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According to a new study, that familiar feeling of exercise fatigue can be easily overcome with nothing but a shift in mindset Talking Yourself out of Exhaustion: The Effects of Self-Talk on Endurance Performance. Blanchfield, A.W., Hardy, J., de Morree, H.M., et al. Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance, School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, UK. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2013 Oct 10. Epub ahead of print.. 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 Self-talk influences vertical jump performance and kinematics in male rugby union players. Edwards, C., Tod, D., McGuigan, M., et al. Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK. Journal of Sports Science 2008 Nov;26(13):1459-65. Effects of instructional and motivational self-talk on the vertical jump. Tod, D.A., Thatcher, R.,McGuigan, M., etal.Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Aberystwyth University, Aberstwyth, UK. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2009 Jan;23(1):196-202..
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 (“You stink, Fartface!”)? Psychologists say it’s okay to acknowledge those comments — and then turn our attention elsewhere. One of these inspiring mantras should do the trick.
Do you use a motivational mantra to keep yourself going during tough workouts? Share in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.