Run Faster By Focusing on an Object in the Distance
Researchers have found a way to make running and walking seem less long and tiresome. People who narrow their attention and focus on a specific object in the distance can motivate themselves to push on.
Those of us who've made fitness part of our New Year's resolution may find their focus waining. The winter ritual of hopping on a treadmill and just running is boring, even having a go around the block can be a daunting exercise regardless of the cold. But Olga Khazan of The Atlantic writes that researchers have found a way to make the task seem less long and tiresome, claiming people who narrow their attention and focus on a specific object in the distance—keeping your eye on the prize as the old adage goes—can motivate themselves to push on.
One of the study's co-authors, Emily Balcetis an Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University, explained in a press release:
“People are less interested in exercise if physical activity seems daunting, which can happen when distances to be walked appear quite long. These findings indicate that narrowly focusing visual attention on a specific target, like a building a few blocks ahead, rather than looking around your surroundings, makes that distance appear shorter, helps you walk faster, and also makes exercising seem easier.”
The findings, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, were based on two studies. The first involved 66 adult participants that were taken to a New York City park in the summer and asked to walk. From the starting line, an open cooler with cold beverages stood just 12 feet away. The participants were split into two groups. One was asked to focus on the cooler as they walked, while the other was told to walk naturally.
Researchers then asked participants to estimate the distance between the cooler and the starting line. Those who were asked to focus on the cooler perceived the distance as shorter than the other group.
In the second experiment, researchers took 73 participants to a gymnasium and timed them as they walked 20 feet while wearing ankle bracelets, adding 15 percent to their body weight. Similar to the first experiment one group was told to focus on a point in the distance (a cone), while the other group was told to look around and look at the cone.
Participants in the focused group perceived the cone to be 28 percent closer and walked 23 percent faster than the other group. What's more, the focused group found the exercise less physically exhausting than the other group.
The researchers weren't sure what caused the focused participants skewed perception and faster speeds. However, they offered a suggestion:
"When people see goals as within reach, it may mobilize action, producing bursts of energy that result in quicker walking times and an experience of ease."
Read more at The Atlantic
Photo Credit: Tuncay/Flickr
- The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
- Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
- Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
- Prejudice is typically perpetrated against 'the other', i.e. a group outside our own.
- But ageism is prejudice against ourselves — at least, the people we will (hopefully!) become.
- Different generations needs to cooperate now more than ever to solve global problems.
The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.
- U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
- A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
- Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.