Psychology to your Advantage

Friday, March 19, 2010

I just heard an interesting tidbit from a Social Psychology lecture I was listening to on a podcast (don't ask). There was a study that said that individuals put forth more effort when other people are around. Thinking about this from a fitness standpoint, it would be beneficial to work out in a gym or other public facility. You might just work a little harder. Or perhaps you might try running in public. It feels good to breeze past homes where you occasionally see people sitting in front of the TV, or sitting around in general. Or when you sneak a peek at a cute guy, you can't help but pick up your shoulders and your pace. Awww, c'mon, you know you do:) And you know people are watching you from their vehicles as they pass by, so you don't want to appear haggard, right? Taking part in group exercise classes, in front of a mirror to boot, makes you more apt to perfect your form, follow through, and eek out every last rep so you don't look like a schmuck. In the comfort of your own living room, you can get by with a little (or a lot) of slack.

The hugest boost I've ever had while running was when I was running in road races. I don't think I would've survived the half-marathon if it weren't for the supporters that cheered the entire length of the route. As silly as it may sound, it ticked me off, at the same time as it made me root for them, when these little kids or people much heavier than me would pass me up. That pushed me to run faster. And my mom even noticed that every time I saw my family at the mile markers, my pace seemed to pick up. So, there must be some truth in these psychological theories.

The opposite effect is true when you're working out with other people or participating in a group effort. You're actually more likely to work less hard. You start to rely on the strength and speed of others, such as in the case of something like a tug-of-war.

So, use these little tidbits to your advantage to push your workout to new heights!

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Emily Conrad said...

I don't ususally think about other people while I'm out running. I'm busy trying to keep myself going and running with my husband usually helps me because then I've got someone else I'm thinking about and want to impress. Still, maybe if I think about the people driving by, I'll pick things up a bit, huh? Might be worth a shot. :)

Jessica Collins said...

I think it's probably a subconscious thing that just happens. Having your husband at your side sounds like the perfect way to pick things up!

Jessica Collins said...

Ha ha! I totally noticed myself doing it though, after I read about this. I instinctively straightened when I saw people watching. It's kind of silly that way.