Nocebo: A detrimental effect on health produced by psychological or psychosomatic factors such as negative expectations of treatment or prognosis.
Yet again, last week I had a lovely woman in the gym for her first time. While showing her around the toys, it was obvious that she was nervous about the whole experience. Nervous about what she should or shouldn’t do. About what will or wont hurt her. This is a very common thing in people who start exercising for the first time. Sadly, it seems more common in women.
Anyway, we got to the treadmill and got her walking nicely for a few minutes and her confidence started to rise. So we were chatting away, and I was messing about with the buttons, showing her what did what. And after a couple of minutes she suddenly realised that she was jogging!
The HUGE smile on her face when she realised what she was doing is one of the main reasons I love my job…All her life she had been told that women don’t run, or exercise, or lift heavy things or work hard in any way. All her life she had been told how she will break and shatter every joint in her body if she did anything strenuous. She had been told how the motion of running could make you infertile or cause an abortion. She had been told that if she picked up anything heavier than 10kg she might do some terrible damage to her body.
All her life she had been told a certain thing would have a detrimental effect on health. As a result, every time she did anything that even vaugely resembled activity, she would feel faint and hyper sensitive to everything. All her life she had been experiencing the nocebo effect.
But here she was…running! And she was totally fine. No damage done. No death. No shattered limbs or anything. It is amazing what being in a positive atmosphere can do for you.
I absolutely LOVE my job when I can help break someone out of that negative cycle.