By Charlene Adams
The Daily Mail
A new research study suggests that just thinking of exercising can have the same effects as actually hitting the gym, officials say.
A recent study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology found that simply imagining exercise can tone muscle, delay atrophy, and even make your muscles stronger.
The researchers wrapped the wrists of one of the sets in a cast and gave them instructions to sit still for 11 minutes, five days a week, for four weeks, and ‘perform mental imagery of strong muscle contractions,’ — or, imagine exercising.
The other set were not given any instruction.
The results illustrated that the body and mind are more intertwined than we though.
At the end of the four weeks, the participants who engaged in the ‘mental exercise’ were twice as strong as those who didn’t, Breitbart reports.
Additionally, those participants had a stronger brain because the exercises created stronger neuromuscular pathways.
Scientists have long known the connections between the brain’s cortex and its ability to control and coordinate muscle movement, according to Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Exercising imagery techniques are even commonly used by professional athletes to improve performance.
However, the University’s study is the first to prove that the imagery can delay or stop muscle atrophy.
‘What our study suggests is that imagery exercises could be a valuable tool to prevent or slow muscles from becoming weaker when a health problem limits or restricts a person’s mobility,’ Brian Clark, a professor of physiology and neuroscience in the college said in a statement, according to Breitbart.
With the new developments, imagery can be used to help people undergoing neurorehabilitation and can help control the effects of aging.
In the release, Clark described muscles as the puppets of the nervous system moved by the brain that acts as the string.
‘This information may fundamentally change how we think about muscle weakness in the elderly,’ Clark said.