Simply believing that you are exercising can help you lose Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) weight. A new study found that those who do physically demanding jobs while aware of the potential health benefits of their work lose more weight and have lower blood pressure than those who do the same jobs without realizing the positive side-effects.
Researchers came to this conclusion because some benefits of exercise are related to the “placebo effect”, which is often seen in medical trials when patients respond positively to dummy pills as if they were taking a real new drug.
Psychologists at Harvard University studied a group of 84 women who cleaned rooms and changed bedsheets as hotel housekeepers. They found many of the women were worried that they were not doing enough exercise, even though their jobs were physically demanding.
The researchers pointed out to half the women that they were doing enough exercise through their job to lose weight and stay healthy. The housekeepers were even told how many calories they were burning doing specific tasks. For example, changing linens for 15 minutes burned 40 calories, vacuuming for 15 minutes burned 50 calories and cleaning bathrooms for 15 minutes burned 60 calories.
The other half of the women in the group were told nothing about the health benefits of their daily chores.
After four weeks, those told they were doing lots of exercise at work had lost two pounds on average, lowered their blood pressure by almost 10% and shed almost 0.5% of their body fat. The other group experienced no noticeable changes in their health or physique, according to the study published in the journal Psychological Science.
Lead researcher Ellen Langer said there was no apparent difference in activity levels of the two groups. “The changes were a function of the change in mindset alone,” she said.
“If you can put the mind in a healthy place, you can have dramatic physiological consequences. If the mind is fully in a healthy place, the body will be, as well.”
But mindsets are hard to change, she added. “So if you’re just sitting on the couch and just telling yourself that you’re exercising, you’re not going to believe yourself and so there will be no change.”
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