Scientists say you can increase the strength of your muscles just by sitting back and imagine yourself taking exercise — a discovery that could help patients too weak to exercise to start recuperating.
Muscles move in response to impulses from nearby nerve cells called motor neurons. The firing of those neurons in turn depends on the strength of electrical impulses sent by the brain.
Dr Guang Yue, an exercise physiologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, says that this suggests you can increase muscle strength solely by sending a larger signal to motor neurons from the brain.
New Scientist magazine reports that Dr Yue and his colleagues have already found that visualising exercise was enough to increase strength in a muscle in the little finger, which it uses to move sideways.