New study showed that seeing yourself as lazy hurts your health. It points a dark side to the placebo effect. The study that was conducted on group of Americans, said that death rate was much higher among the ones who thought of themselves as lazier than others.
And if that is not enough, this stayed true even “after adjusting for actual levels of physical activity.” All this information shows that not only not being active is certainly hurting your health, it is also dangerous to just think of yourself as not active person.
Stanford University researchers Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum write in the journal Health Psychology: “For any given level of physical activity, people may perceive themselves as more or less active, fit, and healthy, depending on what they believe is the ‘right’ type and amount of activity,” adding “We present suggestive evidence that such perceptions meaningfully affect health outcomes.
The study included data from 1990 National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in which 61,141 American adults were participants. It was noted by the researchers which participants died by December 31st, 2011.
When participants agreed to be part of the survey, they were asked whether they are “physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age,” and provided with demographic information.
Participants were also presented with a list of physical activities and asked to answer if they were physically active in the recent weeks so that researchers could measure their level of exertion. A group of nearly 9,000 participants agreed to wear accelerometers that would precisely record their physical activity for seven days.
Research reported that key results were: “The less active individuals perceived themselves to be, as compared with other people their age, the more likely they were to die in the follow-up period.”
“Individuals who perceived themselves as less active than other people their age had an up to 71 percent higher mortality risk than those who perceived themselves as more active.”
“Most important,” they add, “this result held when controlling for actual amounts of activity, either as reported in the detailed questionnaires or through accelerometer data.”
Researchers gave few possible explanations for the results and one of them was placebo effect. So if you think that you are essentially non-active person and in the same time you know that is not good for you, bad health will come by itself.
Researchers also pointed out the fact that “perceptions can affect motivation.” A study published in 2015 showed that people “who perceive themselves as unfit compared with their friends are less likely to exercise a year later, even after controlling for their current level of activity.”
Ones fears about living non-active lifestyle can also contribute to depression or stress, which then affect health, also negatively.
This research suggested that all health-conscious interventions would probably have to be reconsidered. Research team said: “Finding the right balance may be a challenge, but carefully crafted campaigns that promote behavior change while simultaneously instilling positive perceptions are likely to be the most effective.”
“Many Americans think that the only healthy physical activity is vigorous exercise in a gym or on a track,” Crum said in announcing the findings. “Our research suggest that perceiving everyday activities as good exercise is almost as important as doing the activities in the first place.”