The Power of Positivity

By Coach Chris Collins, CPT

Today, we’re going to do supersets of taking out the trash and cleaning the sinks, followed by circuits of vacuuming the floors, cleaning the windows, and picking up dirty laundry.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it. Well, it is impressive how someone hasn’t marketed these “exercises” to the fitness industry yet, given the study that follows.

In August 2007, Psychological Science published a study by Drs. Ellen Langer and Alia Crum comparing two groups of hotel room attendants who did the exact same work over an equal amount of time. The results were eye-opening. Simply by informing one group of 44 hotel room attendants their work met the CDC’s requirements for healthy living, they lost more bodyweight, fat, fat percentage, BMI, and waist to hip ratio than the uninformed second group of attendants.

The study is often cited in articles highlighting the placebo effect on exercise. Think it’s working for you, it probably is; think the opposite, well, it’s not too hard to ditch what’s already not in the running for most comfortable thing in your day to do.

Now, there’s a fine line between sunshine pumping and extolling the virtues of getting healthier, but I have to believe some of the first group of attendants’ success in losing fat had to do with specificity and repetition. Told their job duties’ caloric expenditures, things like floor sweeping, bed-making, and dusting can also be thought of as exercise would be a powerful perspective pivot in an attendants’ outlook. What used to be drudgery is now a way to get and stay healthy.

The other group of hotel room attendants, 40 in number, saw no change in their relative biomarkers. I feel bad for this group. This study was conducted at a hotel that had fixed staffs to certain buildings. Everyday folks from group 1 are all smiles and clocking in. I can see others from the second group annoyed at their co-worker’s positive attitude so early in the morning. “We’ll see who’s laughing last at this year’s employee Christmas party’s poker table…”

The other facet of this study is belief. Not a lot of folks like to talk about it, but there’s a lot to be said about sticking it out in the face of what you might sometimes think are insurmountable odds and believing in what you are doing. “With every fiber of my being” is a saying that I interpret to mean committing yourself fully to that which it is you are doing, and I believe that that idea is central to the eventual success in any program.


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