This is part 3 in the Willpower Workout Series. If you missed it, you can catch up here:
In Part 2 of the Willpower Workout Series, we found out that there are 2 direct, simple ways to strengthen your willpower: exercise and meditation. Part 3 includes details about how exercise flexes and strengthens your willpower muscle.
The rapid effects of exercise on willpower
The willpower-strengthening benefits of physical activity are immediate:
- exercise reduces cravings
- exercise relieves stress
- exercise enhances self-control
- exercise makes your brain bigger and faster
Exercise does all of these by enhancing the activity of the pre-frontal cortex, otherwise known as willpower central.
15 minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings, as seen when researchers try to tempt dieters with chocolate and smokers with cigarettes. The long-term effects of exercise are even more impressive. It not only relieves ordinary, everyday, stress, but it’s as powerful an anti-depressant as Prozac. Workouts also enhances the biology of self-control by increasing baseline heart rate variability and training the brain. When neuroscientists have peered inside the brains of new exercisers, they have seen increases in both gray matter – brain cells – and white matter, the insulation on brain cells that helps them communicate quickly and effectively with each other. Physical exercise – like meditation – makes your brain bigger and faster, and the prefrontal cortex shows the largest training effect. ~ The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonical, PhD.
What kind of exercise is best for building willpower?
I repeat: Any activity will do when it comes to stress-busting and brain-building for willpower. For flexing that pre-frontal cortex, everything from spirited grocery marketing to taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts.
Even 5 minutes works willpower magic
Next time in the willpower workout series:
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