To some, running on a treadmill without headphones can feel like pure agony, and there could some science behind why it feels so tough. Distracting yourself while you run could be the key to improved running performance, according to a new study published in Human Kinetics Journal.
Using twelve women between the ages of 18 and 30 the small study measured the participants' oxygen and respiration levels, breathing frequency, heart rate, blood lactate level, and perceived exertion to determine performance while running on a treadmill for 6 minutes 70 percent of their top speed.
The study found that when the participants were distracted by external stimulus, they consumed less oxygen, had lower blood lactate, and a lower rating of perceived exertion compared to those fully focused on running.
This wouldn't be the first study to test the power of a good distraction, also known as the Constrained Action Hypothesis. In a 2017 study on long jumpers, those who focused on where to land rather than on their jumping technique, jumped farther than those who did, according to the Journal of Motor Behavior.
The Constrained Action Hypothesis continued to prove true for a variety of activities from competitive rowing to basic muscle exercises, resulting in improved movement and endurance when the subject focused on external stimuli rather than internal.
Whether you're training for a marathon or going for a casual jog, you may expect to feel more in the zone and go a little bit longer with some sort of outside stimulus, like music or a podcast, or even nature around you, to keep you engaged.
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