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An Investigation of Exercise and the Placebo Effect

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Objective: To replicate previous research that concluded exercise affects health via a placebo effect: simply telling workers with physically active jobs that their "work is exercise" improves health. Method: A convenience sample of university building service workers (n=53) learned "their work is exercise" or about job safety. Results: Groups demonstrated similar outcomes at 4 and 8 weeks for weight, percent fat, waist circumference, and behavioral measures. Both groups increased self-perception as "regular exercisers"; blood pressure was reduced only in the intervention group. Conclusion: This research did not support the placebo effect. Although enticing, simply changing mind-set does not alter the relationship between exercise and health.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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