Raise your exercise willpower
You’ve probably read tips for sticking to an exercise regimen, or lists of ways to maintain self-control during the holidays. But is it possible to literally increase your will to succeed (and therefore your chances)? First, the good news: Studies show that willpower benefits from practice—the more you try to set boundaries for yourself on an ongoing basis, the better you get at it. Furthermore, it’s transferable; if you develop better self-control in one area of life, scientists think you may be able to wield it in other areas later. Other studies suggest that maintaining steady blood sugar levels can be helpful to exhibiting self-control. And, finally, a 2008 study  found a link between doing good deeds and exhibiting greater willpower later. That said, there are indicators that willpower draws from a finite well—that trying to exert control in too many areas too much—or too contiguously—can drain your ability to self-monitor. The take-away? Ration your willpower for your top priorities in a sensible way (e.g., don’t attempt “window” shopping immediately prior to a planned run). Today, challenge yourself to think about your own willpower and what tends to strengthen—or compromise—it.
Note: Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.
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1 Aamodt, Sandra and Sam Wang, Welcome To Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How To Drive And Other Puzzles Of Everyday Life, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2008.
2 Kurt Gray, Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 2010; vol. 1, 3: pp. 253-258.