It seems that it isn’t enough to simply hit the gym, in order to get the full benefits of exercise, you need to believe in its power. People who believe that exercise is going to help them reach their goals and offer benefits are more likely to experience better fitness.

According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine, believing in the power of exercise ensures you get more out of it. Psychologists from the University of Freiburg’s Department of Sport Science looked at the effects of believing in exercise.

The researchers enlisted 76 men and women to answer a survey on their beliefs surrounding the effects of exercise, aspects of their overall wellbeing and their mood. They also had their brain activity measured using an EEG.

After this, each of the participants was divided into different groups. The groups were shown either a video explaining the benefits of using an exercise bike on health or a video that didn’t highlight this. Each participant was then asked to use an exercise bike for 30 minutes.

Researchers found that those who already had a positive attitude when it came to exercise experienced more mental perks from being on the exercise bike. It resulted in them enjoying the activity more, improvements to their mood, a more relaxed state and reduced anxiety. This suggests that it is easier to encourage them to workout and that they will better be able to maintain a routine and see the benefits from this.

Hendrik Mothes, the lead researcher on the project, said: «The results demonstrate that our belief in how much we will benefit from physical activity has a considerable effect on our well-being in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy.»

This means believing that you’re going to benefit from exercise, whether it’s walking, hitting the gym or taking part in a sport, is more likely to help you benefit in a number of ways. You’ll want to keep working out, do the exercises to the best of your ability and be positive about any small benefit you experience.

Feeling like going to the gym is a chore may mean that you don’t put as much into your workout, which then means you don’t get as much out. You’ll also be more likely to skip sessions, veer off your healthy diet and cut gym time short, all of which means you’ll still be someway off your overall fitness goals.

Staying positive and believing what you’re doing is going to help definitely seems to be the right way to go about things.