New research by scientists from Stanford University showed the connection between people’s beliefs and their health.
Researchers looked at the mortality data of 61,000 adults. For 21 years, they have been collecting information on many different criteria, such as the duration and frequency of doing fitness, as well as the amount of exercise people thought they did compared with others their age. Comparing people with same level of physical activity, the scientists came to the conclusion that participants who thought they were less active than their peers died at younger age than those who thought they exercised more.
It is needless to say that healthy lifestyle increases your life expectancy, but perceptions of exercise do too! And there are several reasons for that. Firstly, people tend to be stressed when they think they are not as active as their friends. Secondly, if they believe they less fit than others, they are less likely to be doing any exercise at all a year later, the research from 2015 showed. Thirdly, despite people were actually as active as their friends, they did not realise it, and so they lack some of the benefits. This is the opposite of the placebo effect – nocebo - where if you have negative expectations, the physiological effect of a treatment is reduced.
Although this study reveals that perceptions about our own health and fitness are extremely important, it is still a lot to discover in order to understand where is the line between healthy motivation and too high targets, which makes people even more discouraged.