Just thinking about exercise can trick your body into believing it's worked out

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Can you get thin just thinking about exercising?

Has anyone else been feeling a little bit of Olympic-driven shame over the past week and a half? You know, that thing where you look at the people on your screen committing near-superhuman feats of athletic strength and think, Ugh, maybe I should runtomorrow.

And then, if you're anything like me, you pat yourself on the back for even thinking about it, and settle back on the couch to keep watching.

But — this is great news for all the like-minded lazy folk out there — even if you don't actually get up and channel Usain Bolt the next morning, you really do deserve a little bit of credit for the thought.

Picturing yourself exercising obviously isn't as good as the real thing, but it's better than nothing: As Jim Davis, a professor of cognitive psychology at Canada's Carleton University, explained in Nautilustoday, just the act of imagining a workout can actually make youstronger.

The reason has to do with something called proprioception, the sense of knowing where your body parts are and what each one is doing. (Proprioception is why you can touch your finger to your nose without looking in a mirror, for example.)

"Because it's a sense, just like hearing and seeing, you can have mental imagery specific to it," Davis wrote. And "just as visual imagery uses the same brain areas as visual perception, motor imagery tends to use the same brain areas responsible for moving yourbody."

And giving those brain areas a workout can translate to real physical benefits.

In one 2014 study, researchers took people whose arms were in casts and asked half of them to imagine flexing their wrists; when the casts came off, the muscles they'd thought about were twice as strong as in people who hadn't done the mental work.

Other research, Davis noted, has found that imaginary exercise can be enough to raise your heartrate.

It can also, in some cases, help you fine-tune your motor skills: "Mental practice is one of the few effective performance-enhancing activities," he wrote, especially in physical activities that require some cognitive work.

"For example, doctors who mentally practice before engaging in a virtual-reality surgery outperform those who do not. One study, by Rutgers psychologist Robert Woolfolk, and colleagues, had people simply imagine putting a golf ball into the hole before they took their shot. The people who imagined making it had 30.4 percent more successful putts than those who didnot."

Granted, imaginary exercise isn't a replacement for the myriad benefits of physical exercise, but it's a pretty good supplement: "By just using our imagination," Davis concluded, "we can improve ourselves forreal." I'll take it — especially when there's still a full week of couch-bound Olympics watching ahead.

Scroll through below to learn more about improving health and wellness:

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Your Excessive Sweating Could Be Sending A Critical Message About Your Health
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Your Excessive Sweating Could Be Sending A Critical Message About Your Health

#1: You're extremely stressed

We’ve all sweat in situations that weren’t caused by the weather, like when we’re nervous, getting stage fright, or talking to someone important.

But did you know that stress sweat and heat sweat come from different glands altogether?

Eccrine sweat is produced all over our body, and it’s the type of sweat that keeps us cool in warm temperatures.

Apocrine sweat is secreted when we’re stressed, and it produces a thicker, smellier odor.

So if your B.O. is very strong, and lingers for a long time, it might be time to unwind and lower your stress levels.

#2: You're pregnant — or menopausal

These two conditions are very opposite of one another — but they can both cause excessive sweat.

According to Livescience, shifting hormone levels cause your endocrine system to go a bit awry.

This can cause your body temperature regulation system to go off the fritz, making you boiling hot at a moment’s notice.

So if you are constantly struggling with your body temperature, you could potentially be pregnant — or, if you’re past that age, it could mean that you are getting hot flashes.

#3: You need to drink more water

Prevention.com states if your sweat is stinging your eyes or causing a streaky-what residue on your skin, it could mean that you need to hydrate yourself more.

This could be a sign that you need to drink more water to balance out the contents of the sweat.

It could also mean that you’re drinking a lot of alcohol, which can also be combated with more water!

#4: You are at risk for heatstroke

Excess sweat during a run or hike is fine because it’s helping you cool down so you don’t get heatstroke.

But if you suddenly start to sweat less and begin to get dizzy, nauseous, or confused, it could mean that your body has started to experience heat exhaustion and its temperature-regulating methods are no longer working as well.

If this begins to happen, it’s important to find help, stay hydrated, and get to a cooler area.

#5: You might have hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes excessive sweating.

Though it may be hard to tell when sweating gets excessive, hyperhidrosis is usually characterized from an isolated part of the body continuing to become damp.

So if you find yourself sweating excessively from the palms of your hands, the bottoms of your feet, or even your head, this could be a sign of perspiration gone overboard.

#6: You may need to adjust your diet 

If you’re constantly smelling a weird, fishy stench coming from skin, you could potentially have a rare genetic ailment called trimethylaminuria.

This is your body’s inability to break down trimethylamine, which has a powerful, fishy odor. 

If this is the case, you may have to talk to your doctor about avoiding certain foods.

#7: You might have a serious complication

Excessive sweating, even if you’re not working out or straining yourself, could be a sign of heart health problems.

If you’re experiencing a lot of mysterious perspiration, it might be time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Sweat may seem unsightly and smelly at times, but it’s an important part of our body that can help us better understand what’s going on inside.

Please SHARE this critical information with friends and family on Facebook!

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