Wellness Monday: Move it for Willpower

Psst! Willpower acts as a muscle and you have the power to strengthen and train it!


As I wrap up my personal 90 day physical challenge that I wrote about last week, I am determined to continue moving. Mostly because I feel really good staying active. The rest of my motivation is related to the link between cultivating willpower and exercise.

Recent studies point to the conclusion that physical exercise can contribute to willpower. Here is an excellent video to sum up recent findings explained simply by Kelly McGonigal, PhD off the nicabm website.

Here is a summary:

  • In a study by Oaten and Cheng (2006) people whose exercise level was at zero was gradually increased over time. Participants measured their progress in exercise and simultaneously tracked other unrelated areas of willpower challenges (aka, alcohol and caffeine consumption, eating habits, anger levels, etc.).
  • The outcome points to the finding that regular, consistent exercise leads to a spill over effect. Willpower increased in many areas outside of exercise alone. Changing one thing with exercise seems to facilitate the spread of healthy habits and promote greater sense of wellbeing.
  • Quitting the exercise, however, reversed the effect of increased willpower so all the more reason to keep it up!

Willpower is so important to cultivate and even easier to work on with more information thanks to the efforts of researchers. Learn more here for a site that lists many studies for further inquiry. I found the section, “Increasing Willpower” enlightening.


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