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New Study Shows Exercise Slows Perception of Time

Ever feel like time slows down when you’re working out? Turns out, you’re not imagining it. A recent study conducted by psychologists from the UK and the Netherlands has revealed that our perception of time does indeed stretch out during exercise, making those minutes on the treadmill or bike feel longer than they actually are.

Led by Andrew Mark Edwards from ​​Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK, the study involved 33 active adults who were asked to estimate when a 30-second time period had passed, both at rest and during a 4-kilometer time trial on a stationary bike. The results were intriguing: participants consistently felt that time moved slower during exercise, with 30 seconds on the bike feeling around 8 percent longer than when at rest.

This distortion of time perception during exercise is attributed to heightened physical arousal and awareness, as well as increased sensitivity to discomfort and pain. Known as chronoception, the study of human perception of time reveals that various factors like age, emotions, drugs, and body temperature can influence our internal timekeeper.

Interestingly, the study found that the intensity of exercise or the presence of competition did not significantly alter the perception of time. Whether participants were cycling solo or competing against an avatar on screen, time still felt slower than at rest.

While the study provides valuable insights, the researchers acknowledge its limitations and call for further investigation into the role of external stimuli, exercise intensity, and duration on time perception during exercise. Until then, next time you’re at the gym and feel like time is dragging, you can blame it on your workout.

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