Harness the power of colour to get fit
When it comes to exercising regularly, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated. Could the colour of your clothing help? Behavioural psychologist Judi James explores the power of colour psychology and how your choice of colours could make or break your fitness regime.
Colours are often associated with feelings, emotions or behaviour – and they are often used in common expressions to describe a particular mood, such as ‘feeling blue’, ‘seeing red’, ‘tickled pink‘ or ‘green with envy’.
“It’s easy to be cynical about colour psychology,” admits Judi; “but, while it’s silly to oversimply the effect colours can have on our moods and motivation, most of us have experienced how a certain colour (no matter how well it suits us) can lower our mood or cheer us up – or the way a room’s colour scheme can make us feel either uncomfortable or happier and more energised.”
Can colours really influence our mood?
“Colour psychology has long been linked to mood and achievement,” explains Judi.
“Military uniforms are often made of bright red fabric in a deliberate bid to build courage and resolve, while the classic navy business suit is worn to promote feelings of honesty, confidence and reliability.
“In terms of exercising and fitness, certain football teams claim to have been demotivated on the pitch by the apparently negative colour of their away strip.”
A study carried out by researchers at the University of Chichester found that the success of footballers making penalty strikes was influenced by the colour the goalkeepers were wearing. The fewest number of goals were scored against a goalie in red, followed by one wearing yellow clothing. There was no difference between the number of goals scored when goalies wore blue or green.
The researchers say the findings lend support to the idea that red clothing could give a sportsperson or team a small but meaningful advantage in a competitive encounter.
Colour and mood guide
If you’re keen to try out the idea of colour psychology, especially in relation to boosting your exercise or fitness regime, here’s the lowdown from Judi on how colours could typically affect mood and behaviour.
- Grey – a colour linked to high status and gravitas, but it may lower mood.
- Black – cool, tough and individual, black has associations with resolve and confidence (although some people may view it as depressive). It may help sustain motivation, rather than kick-starting it.
- White – a fresh colour that may represent a new change in attitude. Good for re-starting your exercise programme, but not so good for taking you through the pain barrier when you want to go that extra mile.
- Red – the colour of courage, passion and anger. It’s hard to be half-hearted in red and it’s the colour that will attract the most attention from other exercisers, so you could be shamed into working hard!
- Yellow – the colour of creativity and enthusiasm, which can help with motivation.
- Brown – a steady and calming colour, associated with the earth and all things environmental.
- Blue – a calm, assertive and methodical colour. Not a colour to give a sudden surge of motivation (unless it’s bright blue) but good for long-term planning and resolve.
- Green – an honest and trustworthy colour, pale green may be energy-draining.
- Orange – good for exciting the senses, combining energy with a sense of fun.
- Pink – deep pink is the colour of passion, so could be good if you want to develop a passion for sport or exercise.
Keen to put the colour theory to the test?
To help you choose which colours to try, Judi has these tips.
- Choose a colour to exercise in according to the mood it produces, rather than a colour you feel you ‘like’. Your favourite colour could be counter-productive in mood terms if it’s calming when you need a boost of energy.
- It’s also wise to sidestep fashion. Impressing your peers with your cutting-edge style should come second to your ability to exercise and train well.
- Keep in mind that colour psychology can be subjective. You’ll be influenced by memories and associations triggered by certain colours, so, if in doubt, go with your gut reaction.
Putting the fun back into fitness
Once you’ve picked your colours and worked out how they affect your mood, it’s time to get exercising.
Start experimenting by wearing the colours you feel most motivated or energised by. Wear them when you’re exercising at home, when you go to the gym and when you’re involved in team sports.