New York: Though exercise lovers would never believe this, according to researchers from Ohio University, just thinking about working out can make your muscles stronger.
"Imaginary exercises can help keep a person's muscles from getting weaker when their mobility is restricted by health problems," said lead study author Brian Clark, professor of physiology and neuroscience at Ohio University.
To reach this conclusion, researchers carried out a study in two groups.
One group had their wrists wrapped in a cast that kept their muscles immobilised for four weeks.
They told the group to sit still and imagine exercising for 11 minutes - five days a week - and to imagine flexing their arm muscles as intensely as they could.
The other group of participants were not given any specific instructions.
Those in the mental-exercising group were found to be twice as strong as participants in the other group.
The team found that participants that performed the imaginary exercise were found to have stronger neuromuscular pathways than those who did not, resulting in their muscles getting stronger.
"This work provides for us to better understand the critical importance of the brain in regulating strength. This information may fundamentally change how we think about muscle weakness in the elderly," Clark said in a paper that appeared in the Journal of Neurophysiology.