Worrying about your fitness levels can actually shorten your lifespan

The vast majority of us feel we could do with putting in a little more effort when it comes to maintaining or improving our fitness levels.

When social media is awash with countless #fitspo posts and innumerable gym selfies, it can be difficult not to feel like you're falling short in a society seemingly obsessed with squats, deadlifts and gains.

But if you think this feeling may ultimately work to your benefit and force you to step up, recent research suggests that it may actually do more harm than good.

According to a study conducted at Stanford University, believing you are lazy or less active than your peers can have a serious impact on your health, and in some cases reduce your life span.

Using data collected from more than 60,000 people in the United States over two decades ago, researchers established a connection between a lack of belief in one's fitness ability and recorded deaths.

Commenting on the significance of the findings, researcher, Alia Crum, said: "Our findings fall in line with a growing body of research suggesting that our mindsets – in this case, beliefs about how much exercise we are getting relative to others – can play a crucial role in our health."

Highlighting the impact mindset has on one's physical health, she continued: "It’s time that we start taking the role of mindsets in health more seriously."

"In the pursuit of health and longevity, it is important to adopt not only healthy behaviours, but also healthy thoughts."

"So much effort, notably in public health campaigns, is geared toward motivating people to change their behaviour: eat healthier, exercise more and stress less. But an important variable is being left out of the equation: people’s mindsets about those healthy behaviours."

The study was published in the journal of Health Psychology.

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