New research suggests you can override lazier DNA to make yourself crave exercise.
Photos Chris Fanning
When it comes to choosing to work out or not, we all fall somewhere on the continuum of people driven to move and those who live to lounge. What dictates your place? A recent, groundbreaking study at the University of Missouri in the US revealed that one genetic factor affects the taste for exercise: Researchers found that the most active lab rats had more receptors for the feel-good chemical dopamine, which provided a rush from exercise, whereas the slacker rats had few. But experts are quick to point out that even if you’re less predisposed to move, you can change your destiny. Forget blaming your genes — use these pro tips and mental power tricks to turn your mind and body on to exercise.
● Think athlete Simply believing that you rule your body’s fitness fate can motivate you to work out. In a study at the University of British Columbia in Canada, inactive people who were told genetics influence an individual’s activity level said they doubted their ability to exercise and showed little or no intention of hitting the gym. Those who were told that environment plays a role reported significantly higher confidence and motivation to lace up and sweat.
● Get over the hump Experts speculate that many adults who don’t like exercise feel this way because they simply became discouraged. Studies show that as a workout’s intensity increases, exercisers report more negative feelings — a mindset that could drive you to drop a routine entirely. If you’re not naturally enticed by sweating, go at a groove that encourages you to get past that on-the-fence stage.
● Zero in on the instant perks Exercise lovers tend to be intrinsically motivated, which means they feel the need to be active for reasons other than looking good in a body-con dress, explains Sarah Ullrich-French, an exercise psychologist at Washington State University in the US.