People can shed weight more easily if their brain tells them they can, a new study suggests. A Harvard psychologist found that when she informed hotel maids about how much exercise they get just doing their jobs, they became more fit within a month, NPR reports. A similar group of maids who did not get the same information showed no change.
One critic chalks up the weight loss to changes in the maids' diet and habits—perhaps the knowledge of their daily exercise encouraged them to eat more healthfully. But others are ready to acknowledge the power of the mind over the body. "The idea that the placebo effect applies only to subjective things is really one that we have to dismiss,"said one expert.