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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

Exercise is more effective if you think it will be
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Exercise is more effective if you think it will be image

Exercise is good for us—and the benefits are super-charged if we have a positive feeling about it. The added benefits aren’t all in our head: physical improvements have also been seen and measured.

Essentially, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, say researchers from the University of Freiburg. If people believe that exercise will do them good, then it will; in fact, the belief will amplify any health benefits.

They tested the theory on 76 volunteers, aged between 18 and 32, who were either shown a positive or negative film about cycling before they worked out on a gym bike for 30 minutes afterwards.

Those with a positive feeling about the exercise had less anxiety and recorded more neuro-physiological benefits, too, at the end of the exercise session than did those who had been given negative messages.

The researchers reckon that similar effects could be seen across a wide range of exercises, such as jogging, swimming, and cross-country ski-ing.

“The results demonstrate that our belief in how much we will benefit from physical activity has a considerable effect on our well-being in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said lead researcher Hendrik Mothes.


References

(Source: Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 2016; doi: 10.1007/s10865-016-9781-3)

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