Visualisation; no doubt you have heard the term before but what is it and how does it work? Is it really possible to ‘think yourself fit’?
Well, here are a few people who would probably say yes if you asked them and going by their track record you might begin to believe there is something in it:
- One of the most successful coaches in the history of NBA, Phil Jackson, used guided meditations for his players in order to improve their focus
- Jonny Wilkinson, Former England rugby international fly-half, has used visualisation to mental prepare for games
- From his youth days, Tiger Woods has used internal imaging
- Basketball star Michael Jordan has also accredited his success to visualising his goals
- Jack Nicklaus believes his success has been down to practising visualisation techniques
I don’t think the success of these individuals and their use of visualisation is a coincidence…
What is visualisation?
It is the practice of creating mental images of the desired result in your mind. It can be done by anyone and the results speak volumes.
If top athletes rely on it why can’t we? They weren’t always top athletes…
So, can you think yourself fit? YES YOU CAN! You can strengthen your body’s muscles through the thought process by imagining yourself going through the motions of achieving your desired outcome.
How can we be certain?
Apart from the stories of individuals, and there are many, research supports the power of visualisation.
Even as far back as 1800’s William James, a psychologist state that ‘every representation of a movement awakens in some degree the actual movement’. In other words, whether you actually do the movement of just picture yourself doing it, the brain is activated in the same way; it doesn’t separate out reality from dream.
A study carried out by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, called ‘ From Mental Power to Muscle Power – gaining strength by using the mind’, demonstrated how visualisation can deliver positive results.
The basics of the study were as follows:
- 30 volunteers were selected (young & healthy)
- They were split into three groups
- Two groups were taught how to use directed imaginary movement in as real a way as possible in their heads (finger and bicep movement)
- The third group was the controlled group
- Muscle strength was measured before, during and after the ‘imagined’ training sessions
The results speak for themselves!
In the two groups who used visualisation techniques:
Their finger strength increased by 35%
Their bicep strength increased by 13.5%
What actually happened?
The scientists concluded that the visualisation used in their research enhanced the signals, thus driving the muscles to a higher activation level and increasing strength.
Visualisation works because neural pathways are formed with each new experience we have. Crazy but true!
Whatever your health & fitness goals, you can double your efforts by thinking yourself fit in addition to taking positive actions to get fit. How cool is that!
Remember: ‘If you can dream it, you can achieve it!’ (Zig Ziglar)
To your mental & physical well-being,