A study done in rats compared two groups: rats who could exercise for fun and rats who were forced to exercise.
The rats who were forced to exercise received none of the health benefits!
What does this mean for us human gym rats?
- Do the exercise routine that you love! If you prefer weightlifting to cardio, that’s okay! If you prefer yoga to spin, that’s okay! The workout routine that you can look forward to is the best routine for you.
- Schedule your workout! The rats who were forced to exercise did not have the luxury of knowing when it would happen or when they would get a rest. Take the time to plan your exercise schedule including rest days so that you can get the maximum benefit from anticipation and taking a break.
- Find a way to look forward to your workout! This is different for everyone. You may be motivated by your music playlist, seeing friends, wearing new gym clothes, trying a new exercise or making a post-workout smoothie. Adding these “perks” to your workout means that you will receive even more health benefits because they create positive anticipate, reward and mental wellbeing.
- Remember that we are not rats! We have the power to create our own reality by managing our stress levels. If you catch yourself feeling miserable, you can choose a line of thinking that makes you feel better. It might sound like, “I don’t enjoy my physio exercises, but I will have less back pain when I do them.” or maybe, “I hate it when the elevator is broken, but being out of breath reminds me that my lungs are strong and I am alive!” Play around with it and choose something that works for you 😛
For more information: Interview, “The Science of Stress” with Robert Sapolsky https://youtu.be/DtmwtjOoSYU at the 42 minute mark.