Despite that people “run” for office, many would believe that physical activity and political activity are two separate interests. Not so, argues a study that finds that people who get out and move are the same people who get out the vote. Evidently, those who exercise are more likely to be engaged politically.
Scientists have often theorized that the part of the brain that motivates people to be physically active also inspires them to be active in other ways. Researchers put this belief to the test by examining two sets of data. First, they looked at the physical activity levels of populations by state. Next, they compared these figures to each state’s 2004 voter turnout rates. Surprisingly, the more a state’s population exercised, the more they showed up to the polls. Overall, Western states were the most active, while Southern states ranked the least active.
But fear not! There is a way to get non-athletes out to vote. Additional research found that merely priming the brain to think about being active was enough to inspire more political involvement. Experts randomly assigned word puzzles to subjects, with half of the participants receiving active words such as “move” and “go” and the other half having inactive words like “stop.” After completing the puzzles, researchers asked the participants about their political intentions, and those people who had worked with the active words expressed more of an interest in voting soon.
Since a democracy relies on involvement from its citizens, this information could be used to increase participation. Campaigns could utilize “active” words in order to inspire people to get off the couch and vote so that it’s not just people who are hitting the gym who are also hitting the polls. This is not the first time scientists have explored the politics of the mind, indeed, other research suggests politics could be genetic.
Go “exercise” your right to vote.