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Positive thinking increases your lifespan

Thoughts, feelings and beliefs have an impact on our health, according to a study conducted by Stanford University and published in Health Psychology. The experts advise us to prioritise feelings as much as working out. “Our findings fall in line with a growing body of research suggesting that our mindsets – in this case, beliefs about how much exercise we are getting relative to others – can play a crucial role in our health,” co-author Dr Alia Crum said.

Surveys from over 60,000 US adults that documented the level of physical activity, health and personal background of the participants were analysed. In one of the samples, participants wore an accelerometer that measured their activity during a one-week period. Each person was then asked the same question: “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?” Furthermore, researchers viewed death recors from 2011 – around 21 years after the first survey was conducted.

One of the conclusions was that people who saw themselves as less active than other were more likely to die in the near future than people who considered themselves more active. Dr Crum has worked to prove the connection between positive thinking and lifespan in the past, with research dating back to 2007 that showed the health benefits people get after everyday activities stem from their mentalities.

In the study from 2007, a group of workers at a hotel were told that the activity they got at work met recommended levels of physical activity. While most workers previously considered themselves inactive, the shift in mindset resulted in reduction of weight, body fat and blood pressure.

So much effort, notably in public health campaigns, is geared toward motivating people to change their behaviour: eat healthier, exercise more and stress less,” Dr Crum said as the Independent reports. “But an important variable is being left out of the equation: people’s mindsets about those healthy behaviours. It’s time that we start taking the role of mindsets in health more seriously.”

Daisy Wilder

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