ABSTRACT—In a study testing whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one’s mindset, 84 female room attendants working in seven different hotels were measured on physiological health variables affected by exercise. Those in the informed condition were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.
|Shhhh. These are just sugar pills.|
|Scholar Shelly Brown: "Bridging science and religion" (news.harvard.edu)|
|Powerful love medicine (glucose, FD&C red)|
The placebo effect does not have to involve inert pills or sham procedures. Symbols, beliefs, and expectations can elicit powerful physiological occurrences, both positive and negative (Hahn & Kleinman, 1983; Roberts, Kewman, & Mercie, 1993).
|Prof. Ellen Langer, Harvard University|
EXERCISE AND THE PLACEBO EFFECT
As the most common health threats are now infectious rather than chronic, remedies have also changed. Doctors now prescribe behavioral changes such as exercise for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. We wondered whether the well-known benefits of exercise are in whole or in part the result of the placebo effect. A positive finding would speak to the potentially powerful... More