We all know that self-control is an important ingredient for setting goals and creating healthy change. Whether it be getting fit, developing a morning routine, or organizing your home, self-control can really make it easier to stick with created habits. However, having the willpower to remain consistent with your goals can definitely be easier said than done!
Even the best of plans can be detoured by excuses, everyday distractions, and lack of motivation. Although we may have set the intention to work on our to-do-list, when the time comes to actually get it done, we may find ourselves giving in to other distractions.
But what if there was something we could do that could make sticking with our goals easier?
Well, according to research, that one thing could be exercise!
In a recent study, participants were given a set of exercises they needed to do consistently over a period of 2 months. After the 2 month period, the researchers evaluated participants’ confidence in doing the exercise and their self-belief in maintaining the exercise routine. They also looked at their “delay discounting”, a measure used to assess someone’s ability to withhold pleasures for a greater reward in the future. This “delay discounting” is often a key tool to measure someone’s self-control.
After looking over their findings, it was found that the participants not only had improved willpower towards their fitness habits, but they also improved willpower in other life areas. Regardless of what the task was, the participant’s self-control greatly improved with added exercise. This shows that exercise not only develops your physical muscles but also your willpower muscles.
Now it is unclear as to why exercise has such an effect on your motivation towards other goals. It could be related to the positive psychological state that exercise gives you. Or it may be just a domino effect, with increased willpower in one area trickling into another area.
Regardless, as long as the exercise is challenging enough (meaning it requires you to continuously push yourself), I believe you will see the results of improved willpower. However, just like any muscle, strengthening your self-control muscle does take time. Initially, it may be challenging to maintain the willpower to create healthy change. But with practice, you will slowly get better at having the self-control to consistently create positive change.