If you can’t quite make it to the gym, just think yourself fit.
Olympics fever is getting to all of us. I mean, who doesn’t want to achieve Usain Bolt levels of speed?!
But, before you get yourself all sweaty, apparently all you have to do is visualise exercising to reap the rewards.
It’s all about getting time in for mental training, which involves you kicking back and visualising yourself, say, running for around 20 minutes.
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And this form of visualisation has been shown to increase levels of performance.
For example, golfers who imagine their ball going into the hole before they take a shot have 30.4 per cent more successful putts than the ones who don’t. And patients in arm casts who are told to imagine exercising their wrists and fingers have better strength and flexibility in their hands when the cast is taken off.
Researchers have also found that your breath and heart rate actually speed up during visualised movement. This is because motor visualisation promotes motor learning – your body basically picks up how to respond and ideally perform in these situations.
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So what’s the science behind this amazing discovery?
The basis was first discovered in 1855 when a scientist found that the body responds similarly to visualisation as it does to real imagery, and thus applied this theory to movement. They found that actual and imagined activities involve the same brain patterns, but – and there’s always a but! – in imagined movement, the message never gets to the muscles. (Sorry.)
But because the brain activity is so similar, the body learns how to respond to all the mental cues exercise poses, and thus makes more prepared the next time you muster the strength to pound the pavement.
Of course, as we all know, nothing replaces actually sweating out, but it’s definitely something to try when you’re binge-watching the gymnastics. Even if it’s just in the commercial breaks.
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