OK, sit in a chair and pretend you’re doing a 315-pound deadlift—picture the weights, imagine using your entire strength to hoist them, feel your muscles burning as you complete a set…Why? Because just imagining you’re exercising is better than not exercising at all, says a study out of Ohio State University.
Researchers analyzed data from a study of patients who had their arms in casts, in which half of them imagined exercise with their broken arm and the other half didn’t. When the casts were removed, those who’d imagined exercising had twice as much strength in that arm as those who hadn’t.
Yes, the imagining of motion, which occurs in the same part of the brain where the impulse to move originates, does have physical benefits. And, while it’s not a substitute for real exercise (as if!), imaginary exercise has been shown to improve the performance of those who do highly physical jobs, like surgeons, athletes, and musicians.