How to Control Self-Control

Exercise can increase self-control.

A new health study shows that exercise can increase our willpower in unexpected ways.  It can improve our moods and sense of what we are capable of doing.

New evidence suggests that it can also improve how we control impulses.

Volunteers were studied for their “delay discounting” ability.   Delay discounting measures our ability to put off pleasures now for greater enjoyments in the future.

Volunteers undertook a two-month walking and jogging regimen maintaining a pace that felt difficult but sustainable.

75% of the volunteers developed significantly greater self-control.

The more sessions the jogging pace increased, the greater the improvement in the delay-discounting score.

The gains also remained for a month after the jogging sessions ended training and the subjects slowed or stopped their exercise.

The study entitled “Maintained Physical Activity Induced Changes in Delay Discounting” was published, and you can read an abstract at the National Institute of health – US National Library of Medicine’s website. (1)

It says: “Those who discount the subjective value of delayed rewards less steeply are more likely to engage in physical activity. There is limited research, however, showing whether physical activity can change rates of delay discounting.  In a two-experiment series, treatment and maintenance effects of a novel, effort-paced physical activity intervention on delay discounting were evaluated with multiple baseline designs. Using a lap-based method, participants were instructed to exercise at individualized high and low effort levels and to track their own perceived effort.  The results suggest that treatment-induced changes in discounting were maintained at follow-up for 13 of 16 participants.  In Experiment 2, there were statistically significant group-level improvements in physical activity and delay discounting when comparing baseline with both treatment and maintenance phases.  Percentage change in delay discounting was significantly correlated with session attendance and relative pace (min/mile) improvement over the course of the 7-week treatment. Implications for future research are discussed.”

Another study, “The Vivid Present: Visualization Abilities Are Associated with Steep Discounting of Future Rewards” (2) also available at the NIH website shows that visualization also improves our will power.

The abstract of that study says:  “Humans and other animals discount the value of future rewards, a phenomenon known as delay discounting. Individuals vary widely in the extent to which they discount future rewards, and these tendencies have been associated with important life outcomes.  The current study examined if individual differences in visualization abilities are linked to individual differences in discounting and whether practicing visualization can change discounting behaviors in a lasting way.  Consistent with this relationship but again to our surprise, visualization training tended, albeit weakly, to increase discount rates.”

Increase your delay discounting.  Improving our ability to put off pleasures now for greater rewards in the future can make our lives better in a multitude of ways.

For example:

Delay eating so you feel fresher, stronger, clearer and thinner next day.

Delay borrowing to spend.  Wait until you have cash to pay.

Delay expectations of fast return by investing in good value for higher long term returns.

Using exercise and visualization to increase will power is so important that for this weekend only, I am sending “Three Shamanic Natural Health Reports”, a $39.99 value FREE to everyone who orders our Super Thinking workshop.  

See details below.




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