Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Your Exercise Environment Matters a Lot

Get the most out of your exercise by being mindful of your environment.

Exercise environment matters a lot from a psychological and exercise behavior point-of-view. You can get very different psychological and physical benefits from your exercise experience depending upon what kind of exercise environment you’re in. For example, it matters a good deal if you exercise indoors vs. outdoors, alone vs. with others, in front of a mirror or not, and what you believe about your physical fitness.

Research in my laboratory here at Santa Clara University over the years has experimentally manipulated these and other variables. We have found that if your goal is to relax, reduce tension, and have a more contemplative exercise experience, then you really should consider exercising by yourself. If you want to be energized and uplifted during and after your workout, then you’ll likely want to exercise with others. If you want to enjoy your exercise more, you’ll probably want to exercise outdoors rather than indoors. If you want to work out harder than you normally would, then exercise with someone who is more fit than you. And believe it or not, your beliefs about your fitness matter more than your actual fitness when it comes to the stress management benefits of exercise. In our most recent study we found that fitness instructors wearing high fashion fitness wear (such as Lululemon) didn’t impact the exercise experience or level of workout intensity of those being led by the instructor.

What is quite clear is that, overall, the psychological and even physical benefits of exercise can be altered (both consciously and perhaps unconsciously) by the kind of exercise environment you choose to work out in. Being mindful of these benefits may help you get the most out of your experience.

And at this time of year when most of the country and the Northern hemisphere is very cold and snowy, getting the absolute most out of your exercise experience is especially needed and desired.

For more information check out some of the following links:

http://scu.edu/alumni/illuminate/thoughts.cfm?b=619&c=21457

http://www.shape.com/blogs/working-it-out/should-you-work-out-alone-or-…

http://www.scu.edu/cas/psychology/faculty/upload/iPod-study-2011.pdf

http://www.scu.edu/cas/psychology/faculty/upload/Exercise-Environment-M…

So, what do you think?

Check out my web page at www.scu.edu/tplante and follow me on Twitter @ThomasPlante

Copyright 2015 Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP

advertisement