Just thinking about exercising can make you stronger, according to researchers at Ohio University.
Ohio’s research team recruited 44 people for a study designed to see if mental imagery could help prevent muscle loss in people whose wrists were immobilized.
Twenty-nine subjects wore a rigid cast that immobilized the hand and wrist. Fifteen subjects who did not wear casts served as the control group.
Of the group with wrist-hand immobilization, half were asked to regularly visualize themselves contracting their wrist for five seconds and then resting for five seconds.
This mental imagery exercise was repeated several times in multiple weekly sessions. The second group performed no imagery exercises.
Although both casted groups had lost strength by the end of the four-week experiment, the group that performed mental imagery exercises lost 50 percent less strength than the non-imaginative group.
They also rebounded more quickly.
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