Those who are never satisfied with their lot in life could find contentment by heading to the gym, say scientists.
A study found that the “natural high” associated with aerobic exercise, dampened the need for other rewards — in this case the chance to win a cash sum.
Reward anticipation is linked with a short spike of the chemical dopamine, but working out causes a lift in dopamine levels that can last for a couple of hours.
The team of researchers from the University of Berlin, performed an experiment on two groups of volunteers. The first group were sedentary, while the others were trained endurance athletes.
They asked the volunteers to perform 30 minutes of rigorous exercise on a treadmill, or the same amount of time doing “placebo exercise” such as stretching.
An hour later, they played a monetary incentive delay game where they had to press buttons quickly to try and gain or avoid losing a euro at the time.
The researchers noted that the brain didn’t respond any differently when it came to losing a euro, according to Runner’s World.
However, it blunted all the participants’ desire to win money — even those who were new to exercise — after the treadmill session.
The research, which was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, follows two recent studies that found exercise dramatically alters our attitudes towards food.
The first, published in the same journal edition, asked 35 women to look at food pictures, both after a morning of exercise and after a morning without exercise, to make it possible for the scientists to measure their neural activity.
They found that after a brisk workout, their attentional response to the images decreased.
Lead author Professor James LeCheminant, from Brigham Young University, said: “This study provides evidence that exercise not only affects energy output, but it also may affect how people respond to food cues.”