China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH - By SARAH KNAPTON

You re­ally can think your­self fit, sci­en­tists have shown, af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that peo­ple who be­lieve them­selves to be phys­i­cally ac­tive gain ma­jor health ben­e­fits.

A study of 60,000 peo­ple found that in­di­vid­u­als who be­lieved they were less ac­tive than oth­ers were up to 71 per­cent more likely to die in the fol­low­ing 21 years, even if they were rel­a­tively fit.

In con­trast, those who con­sid­ered them­selves to be phys­i­cally fit were pro­tected against early death, even if that per­cep­tion was wrong , in what re­searchers be­lieve is an ex­er­cise placebo ef­fect.

“Our find­ings fall in line with a grow­ing body of re­search sug­gest­ing that our mind­sets, in this case, be­liefs about how much ex­er­cise we are get­ting rel­a­tive to oth­ers, can play a cru­cial role in our health,” says Alia Crum, PhD, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at Stan­ford Univer­sity.

“It’s time that we start tak­ing the role of mind­sets in health more se­ri­ously.

“In the pur­suit of health and longevity, it is im­por­tant to adopt not only healthy be­hav­iors, but also healthy thoughts.”

T he re­searchers say that peo­ple could gain the same im­pact by be­ing mind­ful of, and feel­ing good about do­ing ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties, such as tak­ing the stairs, walk­ing, bik­ing to work or clean­ing the house.

Crum and her team an­a­lyzed sur­veys from more than 60,000 peo­ple in the United States who were asked about their lev­els of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and mon­i­tored with an ac­celerom­e­ter for a week.

The re­searchers then viewed death records from 2011, which was 21 years af­ter the first sur­vey was con­ducted. Those who be­lieved they did not ex­er­cise enough were far more likely to have died in the study pe­riod, re­gard­less of how much ac­tiv­ity they got.

“Most peo­ple know that not ex­er­cis­ing enough is bad for your health,” adds doc­toral stu­dent Oc­to­vaia Zahrt of Stan­ford Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness.

“But most peo­ple do not know that think­ing you are not ex­er­cis­ing enough can also harm your health.”

Zahrt says she had first no­ticed the phe­nom­e­non when ar­riv­ing to study at Stan­ford and find­ing the other stu­dents were “in­cred­i­bly ac­tive”. Al­though she biked reg­u­larly and vis­ited the gym, she be­gan to feel stressed about her lack of ex­er­cise.

It led her to won­der whether the be­lief could ac­tu­ally al­ter mo­ti­va­tion and af­fect health. Those who deem them­selves un­fit are more likely to re­main in­ac­tive, fu­el­ing feel­ings of fear, stress or de­pres­sion that neg­a­tively af­fect their health.

The re­searchers also be­lieve that it is pos­si­ble to get a placebo ef­fect from the be­lief that they are phys­i­cally ac­tive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.