When thinking makes you feel the burn

Jan
23
2015
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
0
Comments

It’s music to the ears of any couch potato and anyone else fired with New Year resolution to get in shape. It’s also one of my favorite studies about the power of thought. 

A group of scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio wanted to find out basically if there was any difference between going to the gym and just thinking about going to the gym.

It’s music to the ears of any couch potato and anyone else fired with New Year resolution to get in shape. It’s also one of my favorite studies about the power of thought.

A group of scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio wanted to find out basically if there was any difference between going to the gym and just thinking about going to the gym.

In one of their many studies, they assembled 30 volunteers. Eight of them were trained to imagine exercising their little finger, another group of eight were to imagine exercising their elbow flexor muscle, a third group of six actually had to work out their little fingers, and a fourth group did nothing.

At the end of 12 weeks, the scientists discovered that the people who just thought about exercising their little fingers improved their finger strength by 35 per cent, while those who’d actually had to work out had improved their strength by 53 per cent. The elbow thinkers also showed a strong effect by improving their strength by 13.5 per cent.
The Cleveland researchers also found big changes in brain cortical potentials that are usually involved in control of muscle, as though the muscles had actually been exercised.

This research has now been amplified by a new research from Ohio University showing that anyone who has let their muscles go through inactivity or injury can think them back to shape and former strength. In fact, carrying out mental exercises can reduce muscle loss by up to 50 per cent.

In this study, 29 volunteers were asked to wear a rigid cast immobilizing the hand and wrist for four weeks. Half of them regularly carried out mental imagery, where they imagined they were intensely contracting their wrist for five seconds and then resting for five seconds.

At the end of four weeks, both groups had lost significant strength in their immobilized limbs, but the group using the power of thought lost half as much strength as the others (J Neurophysiology 2014; 112: 3219).

This latest study offers yet more evidence that the brain, a marvel of engineering in so many regards, is a little bit dumb when it comes to distinguishing between a thought and an action. Just the thought is enough to produce the neural instructions to change the body.

This is backed up by research with EEGs showing that the electrical activity produced by the brain are identical, whether we are thinking about doing something or actually doing it. Studies with weightlifters show that EEG patterns in the brain that would be activated to produce the actual motor skills are activated while the skill is simply being thought about.

However, these instructions are highly specific; thinking about strength training your elbow doesn’t make automatically make the rest of you strong; only your little finger. The power of thought enhances only the muscle groups being imagined.

The University of Ohio researchers have concluded that the power of the mind is a critical determinant of muscle strength and want to incorporate this kind of mental training in future recovery programs after injury.
For me, it’s important to sit back for a moment and think about the bigger picture here— the implications of these experiments and how much of the standard biological worldview it smashes to smithereens.

If just imagining we’re doing a workout can make our muscles strong, if thinking about doing makes the brain think we’re actually doing, that poses a number of basic questions about exactly what we’re dealing with here, what thought, indeed, the mind itself, actually are. Consider for a moment the sophisticated mechanism required for thoughts to be able to create such a response – far more than the mechanistic model we’re currently presented with.

And of course, this sort of research this leaves us with the biggest question of all: besides of the muscles of our hands and wrists, what else are we capable of influencing? And what out there are we unconsciously affecting at every moment?

 

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Why wait any longer when you’ve already been waiting your entire life?

Top usercarttagbubblemagnifiercrosschevron-down