“Seeing” upbeat subliminal messages during exercise can improve your performance and make your workout feel easier, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reports.
Study participants rode stationary bikes equipped with screens on which either smiley faces and encouraging words (“go,” “energy”) or sad faces and inactive words (“stop,” “tired”), were projected for less than 0.02 seconds, hidden by other visuals so they wouldn’t be consciously recognized. Subjects shown positive cues were able to exercise significantly longer than those shown negative cues.
Based on the results, the study’s authors predict that wearable screens could help tweak your mind’s perception of how much effort your body’s using—meaning, someday smart glasses may have better things to do than incognito Web browsing during staff meetings. Google Glass spin class, anybody?
In the meantime, try this: Work out with a friend or partner who’s big on giving positive feedback—a recent Journal of Sports Sciences study showed it goes a long way toward boosting endurance.