Work Out Without Working Out!

Imagining an action and doing it require the same motor and sensory programs in the brain. A recent study showed that people who imagined strength training exercises increased their strength by 22 percent, compared to 30 percent in those who actually did the exercises. If the same way, mentally rehearsing in detail a piano piece will also yield dividends in muscle memory.

In fact, just believing that your daily activities are exercise has also been shown to improve physical fitness. Harvard researchers informed one group of hotel housekeepers that their daily work qualified as exercise, whereas a control group did not receive this information. Four weeks later, those who believed their work was a form of exercise had a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index, even though their behaviors hadn’t actually changed at all.