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The mind gym: five ways to make exercise a pleasure

Feeling unmotivated, tired or discouraged? Sport scientists have tested the best methods for getting out of a slump and back to your personal best

For most of my adult life, exercise was an ordeal. Even mild workouts felt gruelling and I left the gym in a fouler mood than when I’d arrived. The very idea of the runner’s high seemed like a cruel joke.

As a science writer investigating the mind-body connection, however, I was surprised to discover many psychological tricks that can turn the pain into pleasure. Putting these simple tips to the test, I now happily burn between 6,000 and 7,000 calories a week with high-intensity interval training, 5km runs and yoga. What was once a torment is now the highlight of my day.

The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life by David Robson is published by Canongate (£18.99). To support the Guardian and Observer order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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