Monday 3 April 2023

Thinking affects doing

This is a somewhat dismal quote, but hang on for the flip side.

Individuals who perceived themselves as less active than others were up to 71% more likely to die in the follow-up period than those who perceived themselves as more active. This finding held across 3 samples and after adjusting for actual levels of physical activity and other covariates. Conclusions: Individuals’ perceptions about their level of physical activity strongly predicted mortality, even after accounting for the effects of actual physical activity and other known determinants of mortality. This suggests that perceptions about health behaviors may play an important role in shaping health outcomes. – Zahrt, O. H., & Crum, A. J. (2017). Perceived physical activity and mortality: Evidence from three nationally representative U.S. samples. Health Psychology, 36(11), 1017–1025.

Thinking you’re less active than your peers can have negative affects. Turns out the opposite is also true. Hotel maids who were educated on how much *exercise* is involved in their daily work and that they were getting more exercise than recommended had their blood pressure drop and other changes despite making no conscious changes to their routine- just being aware that their job activities was beneficial.

More recently, researchers found you can see similar affects with step counters. (Gift link – no paywall.)

  • “You’re doing more than recommended” : health improvements.
  • “You’re not exercising enough” : no improvements.

(I will note, as usual, that pedometers do not always work uniformly on superfat people etc etc.)

What I will say is: Give yourself credit for what you are doing for yourself.

Getting enough sleep? Yay!

Following up on some nagging thing like a sore tooth or getting a physical? Yay!

Rubbing lotion into your dry skin and maybe giving yourself a bit of a foot massage? Yay!

Going for a walk? Yay!

It all counts.

If it helps, remember this meme:

Eagle walking forward. Caption: "me going on a stupid little daily walk for my stupid physical and mental health"

via Living ~400lbs