For best results, believe.

How you feel about exercise makes a difference. Your mind and your body aren’t separate. 

If you haven’t given it much thought, now might be the time to change your mind.

New research has shown that you can think yourself fit. Don’t get too excited you still have to be active, but how you think about it can make a big difference.

10% of all premature deaths are directly related to inactivity. 80% of adults don’t get the recommended dose. Health promotion efforts to get people active aren’t getting working as well as they could to be successful or maybe it is all in how they perceive their fitness level.

Researcher Octavia Zahrt, Ph.D. says,

“If you live in an area where most of your peers are really fit, you might perceive yourself as relatively inactive, even though your exercise may be sufficient. Or, if you believe that only running or working out at the gym count as real exercise, you may overlook the exercise you are getting at work or at home cleaning and carrying kids around.”

I can relate. I moved to the fitness capital of Canada and I feel marginally fit. I go back to my hometown (a pretty active city by anyone’s standards) and I feel like a superstar. It is all about perception.

When Dr. Zahrt and Stanford researcher Dr. Olivia Krum surveyed over 61,000 people for 10 years and had access to medical records, disabilities, mental health, BMI, gender, age, education levels, and race. The questionnaires asked how active people thought they were.

“Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?” They also rated themselves on a general health scale from 1 (excellent) to 5 (poor). 

People’s perception did not match their reality and the effect of this was surprising.

People who believed they weren’t fit, whether it was true or not, were 71% more likely to die during the 10 years following the survey than people who thought they were active.

Dr. Octavia Zahrt says,

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

Believing you are active matters. Dr. Olivia Krum proved this in another study when she asked hotel room attendants if they were physically active. All room attendants met the standards for the minimum amount of exercise required simply by doing their job. When Dr. Krum told some of the room attendants that they met the exercise guideline requirements by doing their job and the others about exercise guidelines, but not that they were meeting them at work the results were surprising.

After 4 weeks the room attendants that were informed that their job was meeting minimum exercise guidelines had reduced their blood pressure, weight, BMI, waist circumference and body fat. The only difference was their perception of their activity levels.

What you think you become.

Change your mind, change your health,


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