Researcher: Subjectively perceived sluggishness can reduce life expectancy

How does it affect when we feel lazy and not very fit?
Nowadays, many people are crazy about sports and fitness. Through this fitness craze, some people can develop the feeling that they are simply not active enough. Researchers have now found that even feeling less fit than other people leads to a shorter life expectancy.

In their research, Stanford University researchers found that the feeling of being less fit and active than other people is associated with a reduction in life time. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Health Psychology".

Older study examined hotel staff
Previous studies have already concluded that assessing one's own health has physiological consequences. For one of these studies, the doctors examined employees in the hotel industry at the time. These women moved a lot, but felt that their work was not a good workout.

Seeing work as training led to improvements in blood pressure and body fat
Some hotel staff attended a presentation that showed them that their work involves lifting and walking, both of which are good exercises for activity and health. If the women viewed their work as good training, their blood pressure and body fat would improve, the authors explain.

Data from two large surveys were evaluated
For their current study, the researchers analyzed data from two major national health surveys - the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The doctors also wanted to find out how the participants assessed themselves regarding their fitness compared to other people their age.

If people think they are not fit, they die sooner
If individuals thought they were less active than other people their age, it increased the likelihood of dying earlier, the researchers say. This effect was independent of the state of health, the body mass index (BMI) and other factors, the authors further explain. The observed effect could also be observed, although some of the subjects were similar in every respect.

People affected die 71 percent earlier
The experts analyzed three data sets from the survey, and all three showed that if people considered themselves to be less fit than their friends, they were 71 percent more likely to die earlier during the 21-year follow-up. I was very surprised by the size of this effect, says author Octavia Zahrt from Stanford University.

Is a placebo effect to blame for reduced life expectancy?
The researchers suspect that there are a few reasons for the detectable effect. For example, the so-called placebo effect could play a role. What underpins this idea is the effect of our way of thinking, the experts explain. For example, if we think we are given a pain reliever, placebos really activate endogenous opiates in the brain.

Does demotivation lead to less activity?
Social comparisons can definitely demotivate. If people feel that they are not active enough, this perception could be enough to discourage them, so they stop exercising. Author Zahrt explains that they would become less and less active over time. Lack of exercise and activity could be responsible for some of the negative health outcomes. (as)

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