Research appearing recently in the peer-reviewed journal Behavior Modification shows people engaged in a tailored physical activity intervention demonstrate improved self-control.
“There’s a particular type of task called delay discounting that presents individuals with a series of choices between ‘smaller/sooner’ and ‘larger/later’ rewards,” says Michael Sofis, doctoral student in applied behavioural science at the University of Kansas, who headed the study.
According to Sofis, a change in one’s ability to value future events might keep maladaptive behaviour in check and increase the likelihood of making healthy choices.
“There’s a lot of neuroscientific evidence that suggests mood-altering effects of physical activity could change how you make decisions,” says Sofis.
For people showing problems with impulsivity or self-control, Sofis said the takeaway message is simple: Exercise could help. “I had people of all different ages, BMIs, incomes and mental-health levels, and these studies suggested that nearly every single person at least improved their delayed discounting to some degree,” he says.