A University of Iowa cardiologist says just believing your workout will improve your health can enhance the effects of exercise. Doctor Brian Olshansky is a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. The U-of-I internal medicine professor just published an article about placebos and says whether it’s a pill, surgery or an hour on the treadmill, if you expect good results, you’ll likely get them.

Olshansky says "If you expect you’re going to get benefit, you’re going to get a benefit, and that is the substantial contribution to the effect of the exercise or whatever other type of treatment that you’re hoping to get." Olshansky says the opposite is also true — if you don’t think your workout, or your medicine, is going to do you any good, it likely won’t.

Olshansky says "If you have a positive outlook that what you’re doing is going to be good for you, you will be more likely to get that benefit. If you have no expectations or have negative expectations, then, as you might expect, you’ll either get no benefit, less benefit or it actually could have an adverse effect and make things even worse." He says there’s plenty of evidence of this, and says one example is found in a large study of women who all had equal risk factors.

Olshansky says "Those who believed that they were going to do poorly, those who believed that they were going to die, had a four times greater risk of dying. This is true about medications that might have positive benefit. If someone thinks those medications are not going to have benefit, then that medication creates side effects and can have an adverse effect." His recommendation? Be optimistic in all things and you’ll likely get that positivity back. His findings were published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley report. :41 MP3