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Global Health News
Exercise Might Increase Your Self-Control
Condensed by L.D. Ramirez (sourced from a New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds)

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Lack of self-control can be consequential for health and well-being, often contributing to problems like weight gain, depression or money woes.


Scientists and therapists are constantly researching ways to help people increase their self-restraint, without them having to undergo professional therapy.


In a new study conducted by a group of University of Kansas researchers, they found that tough yet manageable workouts done on a regular basis actually aided participants improve their delay discounting.


Delay discounting is a measure that psychologists use to assess someone’s ability to put off pleasures now for greater enjoyments in the future. The delay-discounting questionnaire is generally accepted in research circles as a valid measure of someone’s self-control.


The researchers also found that the increases were proportional - the longer or the more intense a volunteer's workout sessions became, the greater the improvement in his / her delay-discounting score.


Michael Sofis, doctoral candidate in applied behavioral science and leader of the study, says that many past studies have concluded that regular exercise alters the workings of portions of the brain involved in higher-level thinking and decision-making, which, in turn, play important roles in impulse control.


Exercise also may have more abstract psychological impacts on our sense of self-control. It is, for many of us, a concentrated form of delayed gratification. Exerting ourselves during a workout is not always immediately pleasurable. But it can feel marvelous afterward to know that we managed to keep going, a sensation that could spill over into later decision-making.


Mr. Sofis and his colleagues hope to conduct follow-up studies that will look at the real-world impacts of exercise on self-control. But for now, he says, these results suggest that normal people “can change and improve their self-control with regular physical activity.”


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