Are you feeling a difference when you tune into the Olympics?

Michael Phelps

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Are you finding it hard to step away from the screen?

Are you one of millions binge watching hours upon hours of the best athletes in the world?

“I sat down and watched three straight hours last night,” said David Ramirez, an Operating Partner with Cover 3 restaurant on Anderson Lane. “It’s exciting to be cheering for the USA right now.”

He can even keep up with the competition on the big screens in the restaurant all day long.

“I have two young girls and they’re really getting into it,” said customer Travis Martin. “So it’s fun to watch it as a family.”

Martin says his two daughters are attending a swim and gymnastics camp during the day, and come home and watch the Olympics at night.

“I think it does make them strive a little harder, try a little harder at least in their day to day lives.

Therapist William Schroeder with Just Mind says there is some real science behind what this dad is noticing.

“Seeing people perform at such a high level, I think it inspires other people to go after that same kind of self mastery,” said Schroeder.

It’s hard to believe sitting on the couch watching other people work hard is good for the brain, but Schroeder said watching teams compete and win increases testosterone and dopamine levels.

Dopamine helps with the feelings of happiness and is often called the “motivation molecule.”

The neurotransmitter can help you tackle challenges and move through feelings of despair and incompetence faster.

And then there’s the connection fans feel with the athletes because they either relate to their personal story or have experience with their sport.

The inspiration, Schroeder said, can jump start something new in someone’s life.

“I’ve heard a couple of my staff and a couple of my regulars say it’s gotten them off the couch and into the gym,” said Ramirez who said it has not had the same effect on him. “I’m like ‘eh, time for another cocktail.”

So what happens when the Olympics end? Is there a way to keep the positive feelings alive?

Schroeder suggests setting personal challenges in various areas of your life — in the workplace or even committing to run a race and getting others behind you for support to keep the competitive feeling going.

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