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Longevity & Activity Perception

August 10, 2017

A positive opinion about your activity level may help you live longer.



Exercising your optimism. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People who think they’re more physically active than average live longer than people who think they’re less active — even when their actual activity levels are similar. This according to Stanford researchers Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum, writing in the journal Health Psychology. They analyzed surveys completed by thousands of Americans many years ago. Zahrt says those who believed their activity levels were sub-par were 70% more likely to die —even if they were really just as active as the others.

OCTAVIA ZAHRT (Stanford University):

I don’t want to suggest to anyone to replace real exercise with just positive thinking. But I think you know having healthy behaviors and a healthy mind set about them could be the optimum way to benefit your health.


She says they’re now trying to discover what factors might boost longevity in those with the more positive self-assessment. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon