This published in the journal Psychological Science: "In a study testing whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one's mind-set, 84 female room attendants working in seven different hotels were measured on physiological health variables affected by exercise. Those in the informed condition were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General's recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided. Subjects in the control group were not given this information.
Although the subjects’ actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect."
So if you believe it, you can be it. To me, an important factor coming out of this study is the external motivation of information and specific examples of how the subjects' work was exercise. That information was transformed into an intrinsic perception that they were getting more exercise than before.
I would love to get my hands on one of those exceptionally comprehensive charts that documents the k/calorie per hour and metabolic equivalency figures for activites from archery to standing in the kitchen cooking, and from bathing to dancing the twist. And I when I do, I will give copies to all my clients so they can see how much exercise they are getting everyday, and so they can be mindful of the difference their everyday movement can make. In addition to their regular exercise, of course. And I'm going to swipe that little plaque my father kept on his desk at IBM for 32 years which read: THINK. And I'm going to wear it around my neck every day to work. (You may not believe me... just you wait....) Then we’ll all think ourselves to healthier bodies!