Believing that exercise is good for you increases its benefits

A new study has shown the health benefits of exercise are amplified by your mindset

jog, exercise,

Image: markheybo/Flickr

New research into the the benefits of exercise has shown that your mindset can play a rather big role in how much you get out of it.

German researchers investigating the effects of exercise looked at whether "psychological, physiological, and neurophysiological changes from a single exercise are affected by one’s beliefs and expectations", and found that there was a correlation between believing that exercise was good for you and how much benefit you can derive from it.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, recruited a group of 76 participants between the ages of 18-32 to partake in a 30 minute cycle of moderate exertion. They were divided into four groups who were shown different multimedia packages extolling the benefits of exercise. 

Some groups were shown that there would be more benefits from the exercise, while others were shown that there would be less, before they hopped on their bikes for the cycle.

The results showed that expectations and mood can have a large influence on the results of physical exercise, and that you can be positively or negatively influenced before you start working out. Participants were more relaxed and enjoyed it more if they believed there were more benefits to the exercise.

Those who were told there would be greater benefits were also able to exert a greater amount of energy during the physical activity.

The results showed that "habitual expectations in particular affect exercise-induced psychological and neurophysiological changes in a self-fulfilling manner," or, in other words, if you believe in the benefits of exercise, then you're more likely to enjoy it and get out and do it. 

In a press release accompanying the research, researcher Hendrik Mothes said: "beliefs and expectations could possibly have long-term consequences, for instance on our motivation to engage in sports. They can be a determining factor on whether we can rouse ourselves to go jogging again next time or decide instead to stay at home on the couch."