We’ve got bad news for the outdoor purist, the zen runner, the person who wants to shirk technology just to get in touch with nature. A new study from the UK provides compelling evidence that you can significantly improve athletic performance by shoving a screen flashing subliminal messages in front of your face.
For the research, 13 participants rode stationary bikes with screens while split into two groups: one received positive subliminal messages like encouraging words or happy faces, the other had negative messages subconsciously shoved into their brains.
To be considered subliminal, the on-screen images could not be consciously recognized by the participants, so each lasted .02 seconds and were surrounded by other distracting imagery.
The group with the positive visuals not only rode for longer, the effort felt easier.
“This research is the first to demonstrate that subliminal visual cues can directly affect performance during exercise. Additionally, it confirms that the perception of how much effort someone thinks they are using can be altered during exercise,” Science Daily reports.
Want to mess with your screen-wearing training partner? Just program in some subliminal messages that say “Grandma’s passing on your right flank” or “I can see your man boobs” as you jet away using the power of smiley face emojis and “You’re a champion!” text.