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The Power Of Perception. What Do You Think About Your Physical Activity? - Self-development
The Power Of Perception. What Do You Think About Your Physical Activity? - Self-development

Video: The Power Of Perception. What Do You Think About Your Physical Activity? - Self-development

Video: The Power Of Perception. What Do You Think About Your Physical Activity? - Self-development
Video: The Power of Perception- Change your perspective change your life 2023, March

You walked 7000 steps yesterday. Not bad, but fell short of our usual goal of 10,000. Still, should you be proud of your physical activity? What if you compare yourself to other people your age?

A study by Stanford University psychologists (Zahrt & Crum, 2017) has shown amazing statistics. The researchers used data from three national health surveys of more than 61,000 Americans for 1990, 2002 and 2006 and compared them with the 2011 mortality data, thus reaching a maximum follow-up of 21 years. These surveys contained a lot of data: on physical activity, smoking, body mass index, illness, mental health, etc. There was also a question about how physically active a person is compared to other people of his age.

Studying how people perceive their physical activity, the researchers found that they almost always do not pay enough attention to this factor, they consider it insignificant

Back in 2007, psychologists Alya Crum and Ellen Langer did a real trick with this perception (Crum & Langer, 2007). They turned their gaze to the maids: they gathered one group and asked if they were exercising enough physical activity. Most women thought they didn't: they simply didn't have time to go to gyms or go jogging. They were told and shown that what they do every day, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, changing linens, and chopping miles down hotel hallways, easily exceeds recommended levels of physical activity. The maids suddenly realized this fully and said: "Damn, but, really, everything is so!" They were asked to remind themselves of this more often for a month. The maids in the control group were not told anything like that.

Four weeks later, the scientists took measurements again. It turned out that in comparison with the maids from the control group, the workers who realized their activity noted that they worked a lot, and, in addition, their body weight, body mass index, body fat content, normalized blood pressure, and decreased size. waist. But they did nothing more than the maids from the control group!

Scientists understood that one, even an amazing, example is clearly not enough to draw global conclusions. So the idea was born to test the phenomenon on a large number of people.

Let's go back to our research. Scientists have divided people, depending on their perception, into five groups:

  1. Much more active than others.
  2. Slightly more active than others.
  3. As active as the others.
  4. Slightly less active than others.
  5. Much less active than others.

The study found that those who perceived themselves to be much less active than others doubled their chances of dying in 20 years compared to those who were much more active than their peers

Even those who were simply less active increased the chances of death by 71% compared to the more active others.

Scientists, of course, took into account actual physical activity and all other possible factors, and therefore these results speak of a pure influence of perception. That is, conditionally, a person could engage in physical activity as a real athlete, but for some reason, consider that he is not doing enough in comparison with others. And in this case, he was more likely to die than someone whose physical activity consisted of going to the nearest store for cigarettes and who (unreasonably) considered himself almost an Olympian.

How does perception affect us?

Here are possible explanations, according to scientists:

1) Perception affects motivation. Awareness of being physically active can lead to the creation of an integral image of a person striving for a healthy lifestyle. This means getting rid of bad habits, and attention to nutrition, work with stress and similar manifestations.

2) Perception can evoke strong emotions. If a person sees that they are not at all meeting the recommended standards of physical activity and reads about the harsh consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, they may begin to worry about it, worry about their health, and show signs of depression. On the contrary, those who perceive themselves to be active, even not particularly deservedly, may be in a cheerful mood and demonstrate optimism.

3) Perception can work like a placebo or nocebo (placebo with negative results). It can bring real physical changes because of their anticipation.

Yet the association between perception and mortality is not a causal relationship. We cannot say that it is enough to decide that you are the god of physical education, and this will lead to some significant result. Maybe it will, or maybe not. Don't forget what happened to the maids. We can look at ourselves more attentively - perhaps we, without noticing it, do a lot of physical activity. Then, without false modesty, we need to realize this and remind ourselves every day.

Yet the 7000 steps you took yesterday is a good achievement, and you may be more active than people of your age. It remains only to try to become much more active


Crum AJ, Langer EJ Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect // Psychological Science. 2007.18 (2). 165-171.

Zahrt OH, Crum AJ Perceived physical activity and mortality: Evidence from three nationally representative US samples // Health Psychology. 2017.36 (11). 1017-1025.

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