Regulate Self-Control with Exercise

With temptations being all around us in forms of billboards, Facebook ads, Instagram ads etc. etc., it can be quite hard to control oneself and to avoid impulsive decisions.

Self-control is a great tool to posses and is often admired, it not only often benefits our wallet, but it can also improve our overall wellbeing and mental health. A recent study headed by Michael J. Sofis in a peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Modification demonstrates how regular exercise might improve self-control and decision making for longer lasting benefits.

As discussed before on My Good Planet, it is widely know that there are numerous physical and psychological benefits of exercising, and a recent study might just add one more benefit that a regular exercising might give.

Michael J. Sofis’ headed research “Maintained Physical Activity Induced Changes in Delay Discounting” at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the U.S., which was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Modification, shows that regular exercise might alter and improve self-control and self-restraint. Michael J. Sofis explains:

“There’s a particular type of task called ‘delay discounting’ that presents individuals with a series of choices between ‘smaller/sooner’ and ‘larger/later’ rewards […] It’s something we all experience in our lives. Do you want a little money now – or wait and get a lot of money later? The degree to which one chooses that smaller/sooner reward is called impulsivity, and that has been linked to obesity problems, gambling and most forms of substance abuse.”

In the study researchers, Michael J. Sofis, Ale Carrillo and David Jarmolowicz, looked at the psychological effects of exercise by asking participants of “all different ages, BMIs, incomes and mental-health levels” to fill in questionnaires, which measured the ability to make decisions with ‘larger/later rewards as opposed to ‘smaller/sooner rewards’. The New York Times writes:

“The delay-discounting questionnaire is generally accepted in research circles as a valid measure of someone’s self-control.”

Participants took a part in various physical activities of different levels of strenuousness, including walking; and every participant showed a decrease in impulsivity and an improvement in making decisions with longer lasting benefits. These positive changes and effects lasted the duration of an exercise routine. Though more research and evidence is needed, Sofis’ notes that the improvement and the progress in participants is undeniable.

Sofis’ concluded that people “can change and improve their self-control with regular physical activity”. Thus maybe add an extra walk or a run at the end of your week to improve your overall health and wellbeing, and to protect your wallet from possible impulsive decisions.