People that perceive themselves as being “lazy” or less physically active could be harming their health in ways they wouldn’t even believe. According to a new study, these allegedly present a higher risk of dying young than people with similar activity levels but other perceptions.
Stanford University researchers are behind this new survey. They based their research on data gathered from three nationally representative samples. These included information on over 61,000 U.S. adult residents. Survey participants were monitored over a period of 16 years, in between 1990 and 2006. Mortality data for all the participants was collected in 2011.
Study participants were asked to answer various questions about their activity levels. Two of the samples had them self-report these levels, and to include type, intensity, duration, and frequency. For the other sample, the people involved were asked to wear an accelerometer. This measured their real-time activity throughout a week.
Being Lazy and Considering That You Are Lazy Lead to Different Results
All participants were also asked to answer a specific question. “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”
According to the study results, the difference in between actual physical levels and the people’s perception of it was quite significant.
“Our perceptions about how much exercise we are getting and whether or not we think that exercise is adequate are influenced by many factors other than how much exercise we are actually getting,” stated Octavia Zahrt, who was part of the study.
Another surprising study find is that participants that perceived themselves as being lazy or lazier were also 71 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period of the study. The values remained the same even after controlling for the actual amount of physical activity. Or for age, chronic illnesses, and other health and demographic factors.
All study participants were asked to report their age, gender and race/ethnicity. They were also asked about their education, employment, and marital status, as well as other demographic and health data. They also had to self-rate their health on a scale of one (excellent) to five (poor).
The study team points out that they found a correlation, not a relation between the life expectancy and the perceived activity levels. Still, they note that other studies have indicated the importance of the mindset on behavior and health.
Current study results are available in APA’s journal Health Psychology, and further research is still needed.
Image Source: Pexels