CONFIRMED: Regular Exercise Improves Your Self-Control. Here’s How

Hit the gym and stay away from those brownies.

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Have you ever indulged in a second dessert when you swore you had finished your meal? Or have you ever clicked “order” on another pair of shoes even though you know you didn’t budget for it this month? It happens to us all, but we’re then left inevitably thinking: where was my self-control when I needed it? Turns out, there’s an even easier — and fitter — way to get it.

In fact, you can exercise self-control in more ways than one.

According to a new study published in the journal Behavior Modification, researchers set out to test a longstanding hypothesis. They had predicted that powering through a difficult task — like a HIIT workout that’ll leave you sweating up a storm — can help you experience feelings of control in other ways, i.e. indulgences.

When the researchers encouraged the study subjects to follow a rigorous walking and jogging routine, three out of four participants reported feeling higher levels of self-control. And, in fact, the more workouts each of the women completed, the more they felt in charge of their impulses.

But if the extra intense tabata workouts are not exactly your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you’ll be giving in to every whim you encounter. The study authors proved that it really doesn’t matter what workout you choose; the benefits come from them all.

Whether you want to walk or run, or spin or barre, by taking charge of your workout regimen and accomplishing a fitness goal that you didn’t think was possible — like finally swinging that 50-pound kettlebell, or hitting that 7-minute mile time — you continued to reap the benefits. No matter the participants’ age, starting weight, or workout choice, they all showed improved self-control with increased workouts.

So, if you want even more reason to hit the gym or lace up your shoes and take off on that jog, know that you’ll be giving yourself, even more, control over your own self.