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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Research round-up: Judgement call

Obese people see distances as further and hills steeper than their slimmer counterparts, researchers in the US have discovered

By Katie Barnes, Spa Business | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 4
Obese people believed an object 25m away was actually 30m away / shutterstock
Obese people believed an object 25m away was actually 30m away / shutterstock
You’re not seeing the world as it is – you’re seeing the world in terms of your ability to act. It’s a vicious circle for people with obesity

Scientists have shed new light on the challenges facing exercise professionals in getting the population moving, after new research has found that obesity causes people to see distances as farther and hills steeper than they actually are.

The findings of the study – which was published in the journal Acta Psychologica* in March 2016 – paint the picture of a vicious circle, whereby various types of exercise are perceived to be more challenging as a person’s weight increases.

Points of view
For the study, three researchers – two from Colorado State University and one from Purdue University, US – carried out tests on 66 random volunteers.

In one experiment, the people were asked to judge the distance of a cone that was located 25m away. The researchers found that a 21-stone person saw the distance as 30m, while a 9-stone person saw that same distance as 15m.

In another test, people were asked how steep they thought a nearby hill was. The heavier people thought the incline was greater than their slimmer counterparts – which may be one explanation as to why heavier people are often more likely to take a lift rather than the stairs.

“You’re not seeing the world as it is – you’re seeing the world in terms of your ability to act,” says Dr Jessica Witt, a psychologist at Colorado State University who presented the findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February.

Perceptual bias
“We think these perceptual biases can create a vicious circle for people with obesity. It is conscious perception of the world,” adds Witt. “But it’s not based on conscious perception of the body or feelings of laziness.”

The phenomenon is thought to stem from a survival mechanism in early humans, designed to quickly evaluate our ability to tackle testing situations. However, the reflex appears to be counter-productive in persuading overweight people to be more active.

The researchers suggest setting easier targets for obese people who are starting out on exercise regimes, to avoid early discouragement. Using telescopic glasses to change distance perceptions was also mooted.

*Witt, J et al. Perceived distance and obesity: It’s what you weigh, not what you think. Acta Psychologica. Volume 165. March 2016

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https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/90736_585795.jpg
New research: Obese people see distances as further than they really are, and hills steeper
Edited by Katie Barnes,Obese, obesity, distance, walking, perception, researchs
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
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Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
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Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
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Property & Tenders
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Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

Research round-up: Judgement call

Obese people see distances as further and hills steeper than their slimmer counterparts, researchers in the US have discovered

By Katie Barnes, Spa Business | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 4
Obese people believed an object 25m away was actually 30m away / shutterstock
Obese people believed an object 25m away was actually 30m away / shutterstock
You’re not seeing the world as it is – you’re seeing the world in terms of your ability to act. It’s a vicious circle for people with obesity

Scientists have shed new light on the challenges facing exercise professionals in getting the population moving, after new research has found that obesity causes people to see distances as farther and hills steeper than they actually are.

The findings of the study – which was published in the journal Acta Psychologica* in March 2016 – paint the picture of a vicious circle, whereby various types of exercise are perceived to be more challenging as a person’s weight increases.

Points of view
For the study, three researchers – two from Colorado State University and one from Purdue University, US – carried out tests on 66 random volunteers.

In one experiment, the people were asked to judge the distance of a cone that was located 25m away. The researchers found that a 21-stone person saw the distance as 30m, while a 9-stone person saw that same distance as 15m.

In another test, people were asked how steep they thought a nearby hill was. The heavier people thought the incline was greater than their slimmer counterparts – which may be one explanation as to why heavier people are often more likely to take a lift rather than the stairs.

“You’re not seeing the world as it is – you’re seeing the world in terms of your ability to act,” says Dr Jessica Witt, a psychologist at Colorado State University who presented the findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February.

Perceptual bias
“We think these perceptual biases can create a vicious circle for people with obesity. It is conscious perception of the world,” adds Witt. “But it’s not based on conscious perception of the body or feelings of laziness.”

The phenomenon is thought to stem from a survival mechanism in early humans, designed to quickly evaluate our ability to tackle testing situations. However, the reflex appears to be counter-productive in persuading overweight people to be more active.

The researchers suggest setting easier targets for obese people who are starting out on exercise regimes, to avoid early discouragement. Using telescopic glasses to change distance perceptions was also mooted.

*Witt, J et al. Perceived distance and obesity: It’s what you weigh, not what you think. Acta Psychologica. Volume 165. March 2016

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/90736_585795.jpg
New research: Obese people see distances as further than they really are, and hills steeper
Edited by Katie Barnes,Obese, obesity, distance, walking, perception, researchs
Latest News
Boutique operator 1Rebel has launched its first 1Rebel Labs Studio at its club in Holborn. ...
Latest News
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the UK government to invest £875m in ...
Latest News
Anthony Hamilton, the father of F1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton, is launching a fitness equipment ...
Latest News
The pandemic has had an "unprecedented" impact on physical activity levels in England, with 1 ...
Latest News
The first énergie Fitness club has opened in Spain as part of a push for ...
Latest News
A global innovation competition has been launched to find ways to encourage and support more ...
Latest News
Xponential Fitness has acquired Body Fit Training in a deal worth US$44m. The deal takes ...
Latest News
Exercise has been highlighted as a crucial weapon in cancer patients’ battle against the disease. ...
Latest News
The global health and fitness industry is returning to a busy programme of live trade ...
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Matrix and Intelivideo have signed a strategic partnership, which will see Intelivideo's fitness content integrated ...
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Nadine Dorries, the recently appointed secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport at ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Life Fitness introduces Integrity SL, the next generation LED console
Life Fitness has unveiled the new Integrity SL, its connected LED console designed for the Integrity Series cardio portfolio.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: EMS personal training: shockingly simple
People's fitness goals are extremely diverse – ranging from an elite athlete focused on the next goal to someone who dislikes all activity due to chronic back pain.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: Merrithew™ - Leaders in Mindful Movement™
Merrithew™ enriches the lives of others with responsible exercise modalities and innovative, multidisciplinary fitness offerings ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Core Health & Fitness
Core Health & Fitness offers the commercial health and fitness club marketplace an unmatched portfolio ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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Les Mills International
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