Case Study

Reducing the Pain of Exercise


Short-term pain is sometimes necessary to reap long-term benefits. How can we help individuals understand and act upon this so that they persist through short-term pain and reap the associated long-term benefits?


Eli Lilly a pharmaceutical company sponsored health research | Health | Common cents lab

We conducted a study aimed at helping people reframe the pain and discomfort of weight lifting exercises. The research was sponsored by Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company.


By framing pain as either an increased risk of injury or an indication of improvement, we changed people’s perceptions of pain. People still recognized that the challenging weight lifting task created a sensation of pain, but they found this pain to be less unpleasant when reminded about the related benefits.

Why it matters

Organizations and individuals should bear this in mind as they think about initiatives to increase participation in exercise programs.