Researchers said that reducing perception of effort during exercise using caffeine (or other psychoactive drugs like methylphenidate and modafinil) could help people to stick to their fitness plans.
“Perception of effort is one of the main reasons why people find it difficult to stick to their fitness plans,” said professor Samuele Marcora, director of Research at University of Kent in the United Kingdom.
Marcora pointed out that perceived exertion is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time.
Together with lack of time, physical exertion is one of the main perceived barriers to exercise, the researchers explained.
Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking requires considerable effort, they added.
Marcora suggested that the use of caffeine or other psychoactive drugs to reduce the perception of effort during exercise can make the healthy choice easier.
He also stated that whilst there is no strong ethical opposition to the use of psychoactive drugs to help quit smoking (nicotine) or treat obesity (appetite suppressants), the negative perception of doping in sport may prevent the use of stimulants and other psychoactive drugs to treat physical inactivity, which is responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity.
The paper was published in the journal Sports Medicine.