(Time Healthland) How Understanding Drug Addiction Can Motivate You to Exercise
By Maia Szalavitz Monday, September 26, 2011
Much has been made of the “runner’s high,” the euphoria attributed to pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine and other endorphins (the brain’s endogenous opiates) being released in the brain during exercise. But the question is, if exercise causes the same brain changes as do other rewarding activities like, say, taking drugs, why, then, don’t exercisers crave their workouts the way addicts crave drugs?
Addicts have no lack of motivation to seek the stuff they crave, but most gym-goers — even the most dedicated — have the opposite problem. They have to force themselves to work out despite the strong pull of inertia: “The bed feels so warm and comfortable,” “I can’t leave the office,” “I just don’t wanna!”
Now a new study led by Matthew Ruby at the University of British Columbia and published in Health Psychology explores the reasons for this lack of motivation and suggests that there may be easier ways to conquer it.
The fundamental problem with exercise is that people have to predict how good they’ll feel afterward in order to motivate themselves to do it. And people are notoriously bad at predicting how they’ll feel in the future. For example, people tend to remain in petering romantic relationships longer than they should, overestimating how painful the break-up will be; afterward, they wallow alone at home in their depression, underestimating how beneficial socializing with friends will be for mending their broken heart.