Running in front of a mirror ‘can improve fitness’

Watching your reflection on a treadmill is beneficial

Watching your reflection as you run on a treadmill helps you co-ordinate your limbs and allows you to run more smoothly, a study suggests.

However, eventually it can lead to a decrease in performance for more hard-core runners.
 
Daniel Eaves, program leader for Sports Psychology at Teesside University, who led the study, said that if a person has just taken up running then mirrors are a good way of developing their style but may not be such a good idea for more serious runners.

‘What we see influences how we co-ordinate our limbs,’ he said. ‘If you are just getting into running then mirrors may be ideal for developing your style and performing a less demanding run.’

He made his findings, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, after a study involving 10 ‘physically fit’ males, with an average age of 22. They took part in three 20 minute treadmill runs with a days rest between each.

While running, participants faced different life-size images of themselves. One was a normal mirror, one a normal mirror where the left and right sides were reversed, and a static image.

Various performance factors were measured, such as oxygen consumption, heart rate, biochemical running patterns and reaction time.

Researchers found that beginners’ performance improved with the straight reflection but this tailed off as they became fitter. For more hard-core runners a static image made it harder to run and this in turn could actually boost willpower and performance in the long run.

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