Four weeks after a group of hotel housekeepers were told that the activity they did at work counted as exercise, they dropped about two pounds each and lowered their blood pressure by almost 10 percent -- all without making a single change in activity. Those who weren't clued in didn't show any benefits. "Our minds have more control over our bodies than we think," says Ellen Langer, Ph.D., a Harvard professor and study coauthor. No, this doesn't mean you should nix the gym. But remind yourself that moderate activity (like horseplay) counts, and you may just boost your fitness.
Simply thinking of your daily activities as "exercise" helps shed pounds, says a new study in Psychological Science.