Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Not fit? You can benefit from the placebo effect of sports products

Sports shoes that the manufacturer says will make you run faster. Tracksuits that the advertisers say will make you cycle faster or able to lift heavier weights in the gym. They might actually work - true, it's thanks to the placebo effect - wrote a German psychologist in PLoS One. At least for people who know they are not fit...

Not fit? You can benefit from the placebo effect of sports products

This study was done by Hendrik Mothes, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg. Mothes got nearly 80 participants to cycle for 30 minutes and asked them during the session how tiring they were finding it. Before the participants started cycling Mothes ascertained whether they regarded themselves as athletic and fit [Physical Self-Concept].

During the cycling session the participants wore a compression shirt made by "a well-known sporting goods manufacturer". Before they started cycling some of the participants were shown a video with the message a) that exercise is healthy and b) the shirt would make cycling easier. The other participants saw exactly the same video clip, but without the tittle-tattle about the performance-enhancing effect of the shirt.

The effect of the story about the performance-enhancing effect of the shirt depended on the Physical Self-Concept of the participants.

Among the participants who regarded themselves as fit and athletic [High Physical Self-Concept] the performance-enhancing story did not make the half hour of cycling less tiring. But among the participants who regarded themselves as non-athletic and unfit [Low Physical Self-Concept] the story did have a positive effect.

Not fit? You can benefit from the placebo effect of sports products

"Merely the belief that the shirt would help, did help the 'unsporty' subjects to have a lower perception of strenuousness during the exercise," Mothes said in a press release. [ Jun 30, 2017]

"The findings impressively show for all those who don't consider themselves to be great sportsmen and -women. The right product really can make sport more pleasant, if only you believe in it."

If on the other hand you know that you're fit the products with performance-enhancing claims don't work.

PLoS One. 2017 Jun 29;12(6):e0180434.

Belief factor crucial for effect of supplements 10.09.2015
Placebos work even if you know you're taking a placebo 05.09.2015

Placebo Effect

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