According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth-leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths around the world annually. Readers of this blog need no convincing that it’s important to be active every day. But is spending more time on it enough to reduce the risk of early death? Not necessarily. How we perceive this activity turns out to be just as important. We learn of this from the authors of an intriguing study in Health Psychology devoted to physical activity and mortality.
Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum at Stanford University were inspired by an earlier experiment involving hotel room attendants who completed a 20-minute intervention informing them that their daily work satisfied exercise recommendations and highlighting the benefits of this active lifestyle. This intervention not only shifted room attendants’ perceptions, but also resulted in health improvements including lower blood pressure and reductions in weight and body fat.
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As the researchers expected, perceived physical activity relative to peers was closely associated with risk of dying. Even after adjusting for actual levels of physical activity, individuals who perceived themselves as less active than others were up to 71 per cent more likely to die in the follow-up period than those who perceived themselves as more active. One can say with confidence that individuals’ perceptions about their level of physical activity were strongly related to their longevity, even after accounting for the effects of actual physical activity and other known determinants of mortality such as smoking or obesity.
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This post, People who think they exercise less than their peers die earlier, by Don Philbin first appeared on at http://www.adrtoolbox.com/.