Once again, science has come through with the goods. A new study has shown that you can trick your mind into thinking you’re exercising, without stepping foot on a treadmill.
Professor of cognitive psychology at Canada’s Carleton University, Jim Davis, explained the findings of research in an article for Nautilus.
While visualising movement and actually moving aren’t quite the same thing (thanks Captain Obvious), these actions apparently share the same neural and bodily areas to complete the process.
To put it simply, motor imagery uses similar parts of the brain involved in moving the body.
It all has to do with proprioception, the awareness of the relative position of your body parts. Without conscious awareness, receptors in the muscles are sending information to the brain about length, tension pressure and potentially harmful stimuli.
Also sometimes referred to as kinesthesis, the process allows you to have mental imagery specific to it.
What this means is that you can imagine you’re running, and even if you’re lying down watching Netflix, your brain will still believe it.
Other research found that simply imagining exercise can increase your breath and heart rate. Here we were thinking it was just the sheer dread of having to go to the gym.
According to the study, 20 mins is the golden time when it comes to mental practice exercise. Apparently we have short attention spans or something.
And while this research seems like the ultimate excuse to wave our weekly gym memberships, this technique is not to replace your recommended weekly physical activity. In case, you know, you were planning on taking it there. (Cough, us, cough.)