Weak ‘willpower muscle’ stops people exercising

Most people can't face a work out after the office

An undeveloped ‘willpower muscle’ may be the reason workers can’t face going to the gym after the office, researchers claim.
 

Canadian scientists found that the more emotional or mental challenges a person faces in a day, the less resolute they become to work out physically.

However, the findings should not deter us from keeping fit. Experts believe that willpower is like a muscle, which needs to be exercised to avoid the temptation of a night on the couch instead.

Kathleen Martin Ginis, an associate professor of kinesiology – the science of movement – who led the study, said we all have a limited amount of willpower which is whittled away by stress: ‘Cognitive tasks, as well as emotional tasks, such as regulating your emotions, can deplete your self-regulatory capacity to exercise.’

However, there are ways we can stiffen our resolve. The research found that listening to music before going to the gym can help, as well as making commitments to work out with friends.

The study, published in journal Psychology and Health, also concluded that willpower can be stretched by constantly challenging yourself to resist temptations such as eating a piece of chocolate cake, or forcing yourself to study an extra half-hour each night.

Miss Martin Ginis added: ‘There are strategies to help people rejuvenate after their self-regulation is depleted. Willpower is like a muscle: it needs to be challenged to build itself.’

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