Think Strong

Listen to Dr Priyanka Shekar

19th Jan 2023 • 03 Min and 51 Sec

First, strong thoughts, then come actions. Research says that your mind holds the implement you will use when you physically execute something.

We are all mortal who wants to improve our health and well-being with simple things without any hassle, but what is the right advice? Is it a morning walk? Or have regular cold showers to boost your immune system? Or eat some tasty oily fish? Welcome to the Optimists podcast, I’m Dr. Priyanka, and this is “One Simple Thing.” Here you will learn just one thing to improve your health in ways you might not expect. 

You can do something from where you can boost your strength up to 24%; imagine yourself doing a push-up and how each limb moves and feels. Just thinking stronger about yourself can do amazing wonders. 

Yes, scientists have shown that just thinking about doing something like a push-up really can improve your performance; it’s called motor imagery. It’s a technique that athletes use, but any of us are free to try! as well as making you better at a movement, it can also make you stronger, increase muscle function, and even aid recovery after an injury. 

Is this something you would like to try? 

Will it make a difference? Can spending time imagining doing an exercise make you better at it? Some evidence suggests that, yes, it is what happens. 

Long ago, in the late 1800s, people were speculating that gymnastics skills could be learned via thought. Since then, motor imagery has been used in multiple sports. One study with college students claimed that practicing basketball shooting and dart throwing just through motor imagery is almost as effective as physical practice. 

Motor imagery has many effects; it can improve our accuracy, speed, and strength, so it’s not just one thing; it can improve many aspects of our movements. 

There are several studies that looked at electromyographic activities, which is a measure of our muscle response, and they have also examined the cardiovascular rate. Motor imagery is a cognitive technique; it doesn’t just improve our movement skills, but it actually alters the way our brain operates and the way that our physiology works. 

But motor imagery is not involved with our physical movements, so it doesn’t help with our fitness levels. We need physical activities to give us that sensory knowledge of our movements. 

Once we have some physical experience, we can use motor imagery to prime our motor systems by working on the planning and motor programming stage of our movements. So when we come to physically execute the movement, we are already fine-tuned and ready to go by allowing us to be accurate and precise as possible with our movements. 

If you want to practice push-ups with motor imagery, try to achieve the first-person perspective, so try and feel your body perform that and make sure you maintain the flow and pace as you when physically executing that action. 

Ideally, if you want to attain the best motor imagery practice, experts suggest imagining them by physically being in a location where you will execute them. So typically, your mind holds the implement you will use when you physically execute. So practicing in the location helps you form a vivid, accurate representation of the movement. 

Remember to think stronger about yourself to execute movements well! 

That’s one thing to include in your daily routine for improving your body and life. Join me next time on “One simple thing” for a better tomorrow.