Your Brain Could Be the Key to Living a Physically Fit Life

By on July 31, 2017

(GQ) You work out on, at worst, a semi-regular basis. You make smart eating choices, the occasional late-night food-truck indulgence notwithstanding. You are, generally speaking, a fitness-conscious person, and barring an unfortunate calamity brought about by someone clumsily attempting to install a window A/C unit in their third-story apartment, you can reasonably expect to live a long, healthy life. And yet! According to a baffling-but-fascinating new study, all that rigorous effort and uncompromising discipline could still be for naught, it turns out, unless you believe in yourself, too.

What is all this vaguely Successories-esque nonsense, and why is it following me into the gym? you may be asking with immediate and entirely reasonable suspicion. A team of researchers at Stanford University recently analyzed the relationships between people’s perceptions of how much exercise they get and their actual health outcomes, and their findings are, to use a technical term, pretty weird: People who believe that they’re getting less exercise than average have a mortality rate that is a whopping 71 percent higher than their more self-assured counterparts. Of course, if someone thinks this because the only forms of exercise they do are the movements required to consume their diet of Mountain Dew and pork rinds, that’s one thing. However, the researchers observed the same effect when controlling for things like income, disease or disability, and—most importantly—actual levels of activity.

In other words, even among people whose life choices of choice are, objectively speaking, pretty solid, those who nonetheless lie awake at night worrying about being outworked are significantly more likely to…well, die.

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