When you want to build great physical fitness your mind can be your greatest friend or your worst enemy. These studies below highlight the power of the mind. But it’s when you combine this with your own physical training that you start to see the real results.
“The group that visualised exercise got nearly the same benefit, in terms of strength gains, as the group that actually worked out”
A study by Shackell at Bishop’s University reveals you may be able to make gains in strength without lifting a finger. That study measured the strength gains in three different groups of people. The first group did nothing outside of their usual routine. The second group was put through two weeks of highly focused strength training for one specific muscle, three times a week. The third group listened to CDs that guided them to imagine themselves going through the same workout as the exercising group, three times a week.
The control group, who didn’t do anything, saw no gains in strength. The exercise group, who trained three times a week, saw a 28% gain in strength. No big surprises there. But, the group who did not exercise, but rather thought about exercising, experienced nearly the same gains in strength as the exercise group (24%). The group that visualised exercise got nearly the same benefit, in terms of strength-gains, as the group that actually worked out.
“So when you work out, think of yourself as an active, physical person, be present, focused and eliminate negative self-talk”
Similarly, in a 2007 Harvard study of housekeeping staff in a major hotel, half the staff were told that what they did on a daily basis qualified as the amount of exercise needed to be fit and healthy, and the other half did not receive this instruction. The staff had physical diagnostics done at the start of the study and again at the end.
Four weeks later, the housekeepers who were told that what they did was exercise had lost weight, had lower blood pressure, body-fat percentage, waist-hip ratio and BMI. The rest of the housekeepers saw none of these changes.
So when you work out, think of yourself as an active, physical person, be present, focused and eliminate negative self-talk. Be more active and remind yourself about your strengths, as the mind is a very powerful thing and – if you harness it correctly – there are even bigger training gains to be made.
The information provided is general in nature and should not substitute any health or medical advice. Please consult a qualified professional to assist with any specific conditions or queries. The opinions expressed as those of the columnist. You know the drill…