Does a Positive Self Image Lead to Longer Lifespan?

Exploring Intensity

Does a Positive Self Image Lead to Longer Lifespan?

You have heard a million times about the power of a positive mental attitude. And a new study points to evidence that how you feel about your own physical fitness may add to, or strip away, years of your life.

Researchers looked at mountains of data of people’s self-perceptions and examined a correlation with lifespan. When all of the variables were factored out — how healthy they were, how much they weighed or if they smoked — the researchers found that people who thought they weren’t as active as they should be died sooner.

The studies included people from varied health backgrounds ranging from exceptionally fit to sedentary smokers – and those felt badly about their activity level had shorter lifespans. The researchers made sure to compare smokers to smokers and athletes to athletes.

This was seemingly across the board on all the studies they looked at. One of the studies showed that the people who felt they exercised less than their peers were 71% more likely to die compared to someone of the same background who felt pretty good about their activity.

So why is this? There are a few theories. One is the placebo effect, according to this article:

…the belief you’re getting a pain medication can activate endogenous opiates in the brain.” Crum thinks something similar may be at play here, where an underlying dread of not exercising enough is a powerful frame of mind that can harm health.

There is also a theory that thinking you are lame and should be doing more leads to less motivation, creating a downward spiral of activity and self perception.

What’s the lesson here? Stay positive about your effort, and you will wind up with more positive results in the gym. If you miss a day or two or even a week, don’t beat yourself up about it.

-Shane M.