Mind Over Matter: The Exercise Effect
Are you getting enough exercise compared to others your age? If your answer is “no,” you could be cutting years off your life. That appears to be true even if you really have been getting comparable exercise, a new study suggests. Researchers at Stanford University analyzed responses from people participating in two major national health surveys on the amount of exercise they performed, their weight, whether or not they smoked, and how they felt their physical activity compared to others of the same age. The investigators also had tracking data on the exercise habits of the participants. After 21 years of follow up they reported that people who thought they were exercising less were more likely to die during that period than their peers. This was true regardless of health, weight, and other factors reported. The researchers said they aren’t sure what accounts for the difference. It could be that believing you are getting less exercise than others eventually leads to decreasing the amount you have been performing. Or it might be the flip side of the placebo effect, where people respond to an inert medication when they think it is the real thing. Here, the belief that you’re not getting enough exercise might be powerful enough to undermine health, the researchers suggested.
Octavia H Zahrt and Alia J. Crum, “Perceived Physical Activity and Mortality: Evidence from Three Nationally representative U.S. Samples.” Health Psychology, July 20, 2017, dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000531
Also in this week’s health bulletin:
If you are tired of too many prescriptions – and have had enough of taking medications for ailments that may not require them – then my new book may be for you: Mind Over Meds looks at the problem of overmedication, the science that shows drugs aren’t always the best option, as well as helpful, reliable integrative medicine approaches.