Simple mind trick can help ‘stop muscles from wasting away’ – could it help arthritis?

Fitness & Health:

Muscle deterioration is a major problem for sufferers of arthritis. What makes matters worse is that this muscle weakness can lead to further development of the condition. But exercise can cut in between this process and make things easier and it is recommended by physiotherapists as part of therapy.

But other research suggests that mere mind tricks might be able to help delay muscle atrophy and improve your strength.

Terence Watts, a psychotherapist, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine recently told “Just by imagining that you’re exercising can make you stronger, tone your muscles, and delay or stop muscles from wasting away. A valuable tool in preventing muscle weakness as we age.”

He cited research from Ohio University that compared the immobilised muscles of study participants who imagined themselves doing exercise and those who didn’t.


During the study, two groups of people had their arms wrapped in a cast, making their muscles around their wrists immobile for four weeks.

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One group was made to sit and imagine exercising for 11 minutes, for five days a week. As part of this, they had to devote all their mental energy to imagining flexing their arm muscles. They weren’t daydreaming.

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Compared to the people who didn’t do the exercise, these people had double the strength at the end of the four weeks.

Mr Watts added: “Of course, the mental workout on its own will not create a huge improvement in your fitness levels but it will keep you as fit as it is possible for you to be without physical exercise. But add even just a moderate amount of physical exercise – walking, for example – and you’ll really begin to see the benefits.

“I recommend doing a 10-minute ‘mental workout’ each morning before exercising which includes closing your eyes and imagining your workout before it happens.



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