Feel Like Time Moves Much Slower When You Exercise? This Is Why

I KNEW I wasn't imagining it.

Ever find yourself hearing the words “just 30 seconds more” from an exercise group trainer and thinking to yourself that there is no WAY you have 10 seconds in you, nevermind 30?

It’s bizarre. If you were told almost anything else would be just another 30 seconds, you’d know that it was almost over and would feel like no time at-all but during exercise, it’s an intolerable amount of time.

Hell, even 5 more seconds of a plank is enough to make me wonder if exercise is really for me.

It’s almost as if time entirely slows down.

Well, in fact, according to one study, that’s exactly what happens. Psychologically, at least. I’m not saying we’re time travellers.

Why time goes more slowly when you exercise

The study, which was published in the journal Brain and Behaviour, found that our perception of time really can be altered by physical exercise. That is to say, people tend to experience time as moving slower when they exercise.

Study author Andrew Mark Edwards said to PsyPost: “I have long been interested in how people perceive the passing of time and whether this is impacted by particular events. In the case of exercise, time seems to drag in certain circumstances and yet at others moves very fast.

“I was intrigued to examine the performance implications of this and whether this likely impacted both results and adherence.”

The study involved 33 participants who were all moderately or highly active individuals. None of them were professional cyclists but all of them were in good health and capable of undertaking physical trials.

All of the participants engaged in a series of cycling trials on a cycling ergometer which simulated a 4km race.

Throughout the trials, their perception of time was tested, as researchers asked them to estimate how long 30-second and 60-second intervals lasted, without any feedback to their accuracy.

While the trials all differed, the result was the same: the researchers found that participants perceived time as moving slower during their physical activity compared to periods before or after exercising.

While researchers didn’t fully get to the bottom of why this happens, and admit that they could learn more from professional athletes, the results really do say that we perceive time differently when we exercise.