For anyone struggling to keep the New Year Resolution to “Do More Exercise”, science has found a solution — a simple cup of coffee.
In a study conducted by Professor Samuele Marcora of University of Kent, the caffeine in coffee could help people stick to their fitness plans.
Most people give up their resolution to do more exercise within the first six months of the year and Professor Marcora could somehow help them.
Together with lack of time, physical exertion is one of the main perceived barriers to exercise, which is natural as humans evolved to effectively conserve energy. This inherent ‘laziness’ means that sustaining exercise in the long term is very difficult even when people are still motivated to improve their health and fitness as when they started.
Professor Marcora explained that perception of effort is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time. Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking require considerable effort. He said the use of caffeine or other psychoactive drugs to reduce perception of effort during exercise can make the healthy choice easier.
He said that while there is no strong ethical opposition to the use of psychoactive drugs to help quit smoking (nicotine) or treat obesity (appetite suppressants), the negative perception of doping in sport may prevent the use of stimulants and other psychoactive drugs to treat physical inactivity which is responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity.
Professor Samuele Marcora is the Director of Research at the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.