29 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2024 issue 1

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Leisure Management - The power of placebo


The power of placebo

Delivering personally-designed workouts can create a placebo effect that yields better results, find researchers

Participants who believed their workout was customised got better results photo: Shutterstock / fizkes

Believing your training programme has been personally optimised just for you creates a placebo effect that leads to better results.

In a Norwegian pilot study, called The effects of being told you are in the intervention group on training results: a pilot study, published in the journal, Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Agder found the placebo effect – which is common in medicine – holds true for exercise as well.

“If you believe the training programme you're following has been optimised for you, that in itself will have an effect, regardless of the content of the programme. It is exactly the same as the placebo effect we know from medicine,” says research fellow Kolbjørn Lindberg.

The University of Agder study involved 40 individuals who underwent physical tests in a laboratory and were then given very similar training programmes.

Half the participants – the intervention group – were told the training programme had been specially adapted for them based on their tests. The control group did not receive such a message.

Better results
The groups were tested again after eight to 10 weeks of training and it turned out that those who thought they had received an individually-adapted training programme had achieved better results on average than the control group.

The main differences were with regards to squats and general muscle thickness.

Lindberg says this may seem surprising, but there are reasons why believing your training programme has been personally adapted for you could yield better results.

“The intervention group may have felt that they had to perform, since the programme was supposed to give them results,” he says. “Also those who thought they were following a personal programme trained a little more and with a higher intensity. Many such small factors can affect the results.”

More: www.hcmmag.com/Placebo

Originally published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 1

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