No one will deny the power the mind can have on the body. With just a minor shift, the mind can turn wins into losses and losses into total victory. We’ve all seen games where at the half, one team is so far behind, we contemplate going home because it’s over; they then regroup and make play after play, crushing the opposition.
Crum and Langer 2007 demonstrated an interesting psychological effect. They openly state a desire to observe the link between exercise and the placebo effect. 7 hotels were randomly assigned to control or experimental groups. The hotel attendants clean on average 15 rooms/day taking 20-30 min per room. The Surgeon General recommends a minimum of 30min of moderate aerobic activity/day.
The hotel attendants filled out a self-report questionnaire on exercise and had their basic health measurements taken; BMI, % body fat by bioimpedance, wait to hip ratio and blood pressure. In the experimental group, the subjects were then given an information package explaining the benefits of activity and explain how doing 15min of linens can burn 40 calories, etc.
30 days later both groups refilled the self-report questionnaire and had their health measurements taken again. The control group showed no change but the experimental group, reported increased amount of exercise (p<.001), increased regular daily activity (p<.01), perceived activity at work (p<.01), a weight loss of 1kg (p<.001), a BMI shift of 1 point (p<.001), a half percentage point drop in body fat (p<.05), an improved hip to waist ration (p<.01), a drop by 10 points in systolic bp (p<.01), and a drop in diastolic bp by 1 point (p<.05).
This is remarkable. The mindfulness brought about by the package in a mere 30 days brought about changes in the health status of these attendants. This is made further remarkable because the hotels reported they were performing the same amount of work. They had each individually, self-organized their own work schedules to increase the exercise effect. Maybe this was not taking breaks or simply performing tasks more quickly but clearly with a simple education, these attendants demonstrated that change is possible quickly and with minimal intervention. In this day and age where more than half the adult populations of Canada and the US are now overweight and we die early from metabolic related disorders- simple interventions that work should be investigated and eventually applied.