Harvard neuroscientist Pascual Leone conducted an experiment in which one group of volunteers were asked to practice a simple five finger exercise on the piano everyday two hours for five days. The second group was asked to just imagine playing the same exercise for the same period of time.
Today is the perfect day to cut loose from work and go to the beach. If you’re lucky enough to do that, then enjoy your day off; if like most of us can’t just take a day off then research suggests just 10 or 15 min of your lunch break can give you exactly the same feelings.
When they asked both groups to perform on the piano at the end of the experiment they found that performance was almost identical, and neuro imaging techniques of their brain showed very similar levels of activation and development of the motor cortex in both groups.
This has stunning consequences for those would prefer to get the benefits of exercise without actually having to go to the gym. It also should make is aware that negative preparation, worrying, anxiety and catastrophisation will equally prepare the brain effectively for stress; so we need to make sure we don’t exercise our brain’s in this way
So this lunchbreak, spend 15 minutes imagining you’re at the beach; your brain and body will get a similar degree of benefit as if you had just popped on your swimwear and gone down to the ocean for a quick break. Enjoy!
Ref: Pascual-Leone, A. Nguyet, D.,Cohen, L., Brasil-Neto, J.,Cammarota, A.; & Hallett. M. (1995). Modulation of muscle responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation during the acquisition of new fine motor skills. Journal of Neurophysiology, 74, 1037-1045