Do you hate to exercise? Okay, if you do, you may already know that avoiding exercise might cause you to die prematurely. Now would you like some more bad news? You might die too soon just because you hate to exercise.
No, I’m not repeating myself. Read that paragraph again. Avoiding exercise may lead to early death and just hating the thought of exercise could kill you too.
In a new study in the journal Health Psychology, people who thought they were less active than their peers had a greater chance of dying younger—even if their actual activity levels were the same.
How crazy is that? In other words people consider themselves to be slackers because they hate exercise, and believe they’re less active than their friends and family who are all about fitness and exercise, may actually be harming their health with their thoughts. This is so even if they get the same amount of physical activity as the people against whom they’re comparing themselves.
These self-identified “exercise slugs” don’t realize that even though they don’t participate in organized forms of exercise, they are more physically active than they know. It’s that belief that they’re not physically active that may cause them to die prematurely.
I know, it’s crazy. Your attitude about your lack of exercise, not just your physical activity, presents a risk to your health and might even cut your life short. Forget about actually being sedentary; just thinking you’re sedentary is apparently just as bad.
Here is what you need to do if you hate exercise to get some of the health benefits.
- Pay attention to the physical activity you get when you’re just going about your day. Wearing a fitness tracker is an easy way to see how much you’re really moving.
- Respond to any negative thoughts with an affirming thought. For example if you find yourself saying to yourself, “I’m such a couch potato,” remind yourself, “just because I don’t workout at the gym, every step I take is physical activity and is good for me.”
- Explore ways to move more in ways that feel more like fun or entertainment than exercise. Walking on a treadmill can be tedious and boring and listening to music or watching TV doesn’t change that fact. Hiking in Maine, however, can be exciting, and/or stress relieving.