Exercise Angry. You’ll Get Fit Faster
This bit of scientific news makes perfect sense: Paul A. Davis, a sports psychologist at the University of Wolverhampton in England and colleagues from Bangor University in Wales discovered that people who are more easily angered exert the most energy while working out. But, interestingly, angry people can not only workout harder, they also workout longer than their calm, cool and collected peers. Davis doesn’t recommend becoming a raging fool at the gym, but he does suggest finding some emotionally stimulating motivation before working out. Bottling up emotions at the gym, he says, leads to “cognitive and physiological strain that will lead to fatigue.” and that, over time, means you’ll burn fewer calories and see slower body transformation. Worst of all, though, the fatigue that comes with bottling up emotions also means you have a higher likelihood of becoming disinterested in working out altogether. In a separate study a link has been shown between emotional inhibition and dying younger. It appears that expressive people live longer. Thus, it’s in your best interest to find something to rage at a little—in a constructive way of course.
Angry Music: I don’t like angry music because it doesn’t actually make me angry or get me at all energized. But, apparently I’m a rarity because angry metal music or heavy base music seems to do it for a lot of people. When I was in college we had a guy on the track team who would spend a few minutes before every race listening to the most god awful, unintelligible, metal crap I’ve ever heard. But, you should have seen the guy run! It must have worked.
The Wateboy: Adam Sandler’s character in The Waterboy pretends other players are the people he hates. He’s such a nice and docile character in every other circumstance, except when he gets to take out his frustrations on the football field. Even then the only way he can hit anybody is by pretending he’s tackling the people who have been frustrating him but who he can’t confront off the football field. That’s my method. When I kick a bag I pretend it’s someone I hate. Works for me!
Remembering Past Success: I won the New England Cross Country Championships when I was a senior in high school. Even when I was in college and the competition was well beyond anything I faced in high school, I used my high school victories as motivation to try to win Division 1 college races. If you’ve ever had a big success that you can point to with pride, I suggest using it to fuel your current endeavor. If you can do it once, you can do it twice, right!
Dream a Little Dream: If there’s something you’re working for, you should day dream a bit about the results you want. I remember seeing the Rocky movies when I was a kid. People would leave the theater thinking they could be the next hard working, all American underdog story; I could see it on their faces, faces that entered the theater looking normal and somewhat uninspired and that left looking much more hopeful and defiant. Rocky was motivating well beyond the confines of boxing. Rocky got everybody thinking about the things they always wanted to do but never put in the effort to realize. Dreaming about what you could accomplish helps fuel you in the present.
Reminders: If you’re forgetful and you’re the sort of person who needs frequent reminders, do that. Arrange your environment so that you can’t turn left or right without being reminded of something that motivates you. I’m not a motivational poster user or slogan collector, but they work for a lot of people, and it’s not my place to poo poo what works. It’s as if you were to watch that aforementioned Rocky movie, leave the theater, and promptly forget the message. But, with a few cues, you get re-motivated! Heck, anything you can do to hang on to a positive message is something you should do. Make the Rocky theme your ring tone (incidentally, mine is the theme to I Dream of Genie because I just loved that show and enjoy being reminded of it), hang boxing gloves in your cubicle at work, make your doorbell into a fight bell; it goes on and on. Hey! Whatever gets you going again is good!
The next time you go to the gym get motivated, get pumped, and get angry. You may have been told it’s not Zen to show emotion, and that would be true. It’s true that peace, love and yoga are great most of the time. But you shouldn’t live your life trying to suppress or eliminate emotion. We’re human, and humans sometimes get mad and hit things. Meditate when it’s time to meditate, but that’s not the whole formula. As human beings that are only 10,000 years removed from living in caves, we have anger issues that can’t be entirely resolved through flickering candles and meditative ohms. We need a non destructive way to release energy that, if left unresolved, could do us harm. There’s no better place to do it than at the gym or during a workout!