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Exercise & Fitness

Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness

August 14, 2017

About the Author

photo of Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Monique Tello is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of the evidence-based lifestyle … See Full Bio
View all posts by Monique Tello, MD, MPH


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Monique Tello, MD, MPH
August 24, 2017

Yes, absolutely- It’s all connected. As the authors hypothesize:
Our mindset affects our motivation. If we feel like we’re active, then we’ll live that way, and vice versa.
If we feel like we’re less active than everyone else, we feel stressed and depressed about it. Stress and depression are well known to be associated with poor health outcomes.
The placebo effect. What we expect has a great influence, not only on how we feel, but a number of other measures. This is why a sugar pill can have a clinical response, or serious side effects. There is a mind-body connection that is real and powerful.

Sarvika Bommakanti
August 19, 2017

Dr. Tello, thank you for this article as it was very interesting! I wish that my previous doctors had read this study when telling me to become more active. I had a question regarding this article: I understand that what a person believes influences them and their health but doesn’t a person still has to work towards being healthy to some extent? Thank you!

Jacked at 60
August 18, 2017

You would think that a Harvard physician would know better than to praise this kind of half-baked science as probative of anything of value.

The tools used to measure fitness don’t actually measure anything of the kind. Absent putting participants on a treadmill or ergometer and testing (at the very least) grip strength, these measures do nothing but measure movement, which is most decidedly not equivalent to fitness.

Recall-based surveys are what gave us the “fat-is-bad-for-you” movement, which still pertains and is completely baseless. They are an insipid, discredited data collection tool. Movement at work also fails the test of integrity; most labor-related work, even very heavy work, produces no fitness gains after a threshold because the body adapts to the load. If there is no further variation in load or intensity, there is no additional adaptation. This is why exercise programming must always have variation in movement, pace, duration, intensity, and load.

There were no measurements of essential physiologic markers (BP, blood lipids, blood sugar, inflammation).

Finally, motivation is nonsense. It is far less important than discipline. You want fitness and all its benefits? Do some work. This article and the study it parses are both gibberish.

I encourage Dr. Tello to return to the classroom for coursework in exercise physiology and methods.

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