Mindset can determine your health
[Photo: from VCG]
Scientists at Stanford University in the US looked at mortality data for 61,000 adults. For 21 years, dozens of measures were taken, including how much people exercised and crucially, how much exercise they thought they did compared with others their age, during which time some of the participants had died from a range of illnesses.
Analyzing the various factors that might have contributed to the participants' health, the researchers discovered something extraordinary. People who thought they weren't doing as much exercise as their peers died younger than those who thought they did more, even when the actual amount of exercise they did was the same.
This effect remained even when they took into account the participants' health status and factors such as smoking.
Exercise does of course add to your average life expectancy, but this study suggests that perceptions of exercise make a difference too. The study's author Octavia Zahrt from Stanford University said her personal experience prompted the research. When she moved to graduate school in California she found herself surrounded by people dressed in their gym kit, who always seemed to be on their way to or from exercising.
[The audio clip is from Studio+, produced by CRI]