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“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.”
– Gene Tunney

Everyone knows that exercise improves health. Many of us also know that exercise improves mental health, and helps protect and reduce the impacts of symptoms associated with mental health concerns. Interesting research released this year in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine demonstrated that one’s expectations towards the benefits of exercise are directly related to the extent of the therapeutic effect of exercise (Hendrik, et al., 2017).

Blood pressure is improved by exercise regardless of one’s mind set, on the other hand, neurophysiological and psychological health benefits derived from exercise seem to be interlinked with one’s expectancies of the benefits of exercise.

It is generally understood that mindset influences information processing, which in turn leads to differences in experiences, actions, and responses between individuals. In fact, many of us have come across the term placebo effect which relates how individual expectations of treatment benefits have a key role in shaping mental and physical health outcomes. Although years of research have identified a strong relationship between psychological states and physiological functioning this research is particularly interesting as it examined exercise more specifically.

The findings indicate that 30 minutes of exercise benefits all, regardless of their mindset. The difference they found is that there was a significantly larger benefit in the alleviation of anxiety and depressive symptoms in individuals who exercised with high expectancies of its benefits.

By sharing this information, we may empower more Canadians to think positively when evaluating the benefits of working out, leading to increased mental health.

Tell a friend! Speak to a counsellor at Terrace Wellness Group about ways to improve habitual expectancies.


  • Mothes, H., Leukel, C., Jo, H., Seelig, H., Schmidt, S., & Fuchs, R. (2017;2016;). Expectations affect psychological and neurophysiological benefits even after a single bout of exercise. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40(2), 293-306. doi:10.1007/s10865-016-9781-3

About Author

Tarek is a pre-med honors Health Psychology student at Carleton University, with a minor in Neuroscience and Mental Health. Currently, an undergraduate Health Psychology researcher, Tarek values the sharing of knowledge related to the biological, psychological, and social model of health.

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