The Gym. Seriously.
Why? Here’s some background:
The technical term is “misattribution of arousal.” In one study, heterosexual men walked across either a very high and unstable suspension bridge (an anxiety-inducing experience) or a bridge that was closer to the ground and wasn’t scary at all. In the middle of the bridge, each man was approached by an attractive female research assistant, who gave them a survey to fill out. Upon completing the questionnaire, she provided the man with her phone number and asked him to give her a call later that night if he had any questions about the study. It turned out that the men who walked across the shaky bridge were much more likely to call the woman than the men who walked across the stable bridge.
What’s happening? When the men who crossed the safe bridge saw the research assistant, most of them looked at her and saw just that, a studious research assistant. But for the men who crossed rickety, unstable bridge, anxiety and adrenaline translated into a heightened romantic interest in the assistant.
In a more related study, male participants were asked to run on a treadmill for either a few minutes or a few seconds. Afterward, they rated their degree of sexual and romantic attraction toward a female college student they observed in a video. Results indicated that the men who exercised longer were more attracted to the woman than the men who did not get their blood pumping as much. That is, when there are competing explanations for the arousal (you aren’t sure if your heart is pounding because you just exercised or because you just met someone really hot), people seem to err on the side of attributing it to the new person. Wonderful.
So get out there, work up a sweat, and approach that hot guy or girl who is equally working hard. You’re more likely to make a stronger first impression than somewhere more sedated and they might even make the mistake of attributing some of the arousal from the workout to you! Plus, going to the gym is like killing two birds with one stone. You get in better shape, which increases your overall physical attractiveness and there’s the added bonus of potentially finding a date. Just go already!
To learn more about how (irrationally) our minds work and how to take advantage of them, I recommend these two great books: Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home.