COULD EXERCISE BE A PLACEBO FOR HEALTH?
The fitness industry is awash with diets and training programs telling you that they have uncovered the one approach that will be the answer to our prayers.
We are told that if we do X, then we’re sure to get the abs, and live happily ever after. Fact is, there are many ways to summit a mountain and many of these approaches do work. I’d like to posit an idea that may help in balancing your approach. You see, the flip-side of NOT doing your “Beautiful bum by Betty” routine, is that you walk away with feelings of guilt. Guilt is bad. If Mary who lives in the burbs starts feeling guilty because she’s not doing the same workouts as Kaylie Fitness from Instagram, this can have a negative effect on her health. If you feel slovenly, then your health will reflect this.
Can exercise be a placebo?
Is the benefit you get from exercise also in the mind?
To answer this, find a group of people who are getting a lot of exercise, but are not aware that they’re getting the exercise.
“The hotel workers study” is a good example that the total effect of anything is a combined product of what you’re doing and what you think you’re doing.
Researchers found a group of hotel workers, who were on their feet all day long, pushing carts, changing linen, climbing stairs, etc. — were clearly getting more exercise than the surgeon general prescribes…. But what is interesting is that when these people were asked how much exercise they were getting, a third of them responded that they were not exercising, and the rest responded that they were a 3 out of 10, — so even though these women were active, they did not have the mindset that they were exercising. They thought that they were just doing hard work. The study split them into 2 groups and the one group was told that they were indeed getting a whole bunch of exercise which was great and good for them according to the minimum as prescribed by the surgeon general.
A mere 4 weeks later, the 2 groups were tested and the results revealed that those who had been informed that they were very active, showed marked signs of improved health. These women were not doing secret sets of push-ups between bouts of changing crusty linen, and still, they lost weight, became leaner, their blood pressure improved…and they felt great about themselves.
Here’s the take-away:
We have to be more thoughtful in how we go about getting our 10,000 steps in.
Not believing that you’re doing enough, can actually make you worse off than if you did not know about the guidelines to being healthy. You can over inform yourself and feel like you’re not doing this or not doing that and you will be in a worse place because you’re berating yourself for not ticking those boxes. The boxes are, in a way subjective. A gentle afternoon walk, done with the right attitude, will do more good than berating yourself for only having done half an hour of High-Intensity training as opposed to the prescribed 60 minutes.
We need to be more mindful about how we motivate people to exercise, but also to be more mindful about how to motivate the people to reap the benefits of the exercise they are already doing…
How much exercise do you get relative to others?
I used to train for triathlons and when I missed a day from my 3hours a day, I felt like a slob. Perceptions are decoupled from objective reality… You run a 50% risk of earlier death if you’re of the mindset that you’re not doing enough…(a study conducted by Dr.Alia Crum, Harvard)
In closing, — Be kind to yourself. Get out, smell the roses. Do get your daily steps in. Do exert yourself until you’re out of breath, because on a cellular level, you will be getting stronger, but for Pete’s sake, be present in the moment. Give yourself a high five for taking a walk in the park with the kids. This, more than a personal trainer, will assure you of a long life.
This is such a cool way of knowing that life and its benefits are a combination of not only the physical but how we connect to our spirit as well.