Can just thinking about exercising actually make you fit?

Can Just Thinking About Exercising Actually Make You Fit?

Chances are you're one of the many people who have daydreamed about having kill arms and washboard abs.

Not that it motivates everyone to go to the gym. It takes a lot of time, discipline, and energy to get on a plan and stick to it.

So, what if you could just stay on your couch and think about being more fit? Would it work?

A British study conducted by Dr. Michael Mosley and his team proves that it isn't as impossible as it sounds to mentally "think" yourself into being fit.

The technique is called "mental or motor imagery," and could actually make muscles stronger... without picking up a single weight!

Seven volunteers were tested as scientists recorded their calf muscle strength through weight lifting exercises. They were then told to imagine using the same machine and picture their muscle contracting 50 times for 15 minutes, five times a week.

After a month, the results showed an average eight percent improvement of their strength.

Sounds wild, right? It turns out, the strength didn't necessarily require the muscles to grow bigger. Instead, the volunteers had mentally willed themselves from using 20 percent more muscle fibers.

So instead of breaking a sweat, just take a mental break!

RELATED: Check out the lazy girl's guide to weight loss:

Lazy girl's guide to weight loss (Byrdie)
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Lazy girl's guide to weight loss (Byrdie)

Cook ahead of time

According to dietitian Lisa Moskovitz, finding the energy to cook after a long, exhausting day is a battle. Hence, she suggests designating one day per week (preferably during the weekend, when you’re not inundated with work) and cooking your meals in advance. “Pack them away in the refrigerator—or even freeze them—so that you have healthy home-cooked meals in minutes without doing anything more than pressing a button on the microwave,” she says.

Photo: The Artful Desperado

Keep healthy snacks at your desk

Says Moskovitz, “Most of us get that urge to nosh between lunch and dinner, especially when you’re stuck sitting behind a desk all day. Since the vending machine or other empty-calorie processed foods are often within a 10-step radius of your desk, it can be hard to resist these unhealthy temptations.” Instead, she suggests keeping high-fiber, protein-rich snacks like oats, cereal, fresh fruit, and raw nuts at your desk or in the office kitchen at all times.

Photo: Lauren Conrad

Get to know MCTs

Viva Labs Highly Concentrated MCT Oil ($18)

We recently talked about digesting medium chain triglycerides as a way to quickly (and easily) banish belly fat. Explains Alexandra Samit, Be Well health coach at Dr. Lipman’s Eleven Wellness Center, "MCTs are a unique form of fat that requires less energy and fewer enzymes to be digested. The best part is that instead of being stored in the body as fat, they get burned for energy. Boost your metabolism, burn fat, and get an increase in energy by incorporating a tablespoon into your diet every day."

Get moving

If you work a desk job that requires you to sit most of the day—use your time wisely! Instead of being motionless all day, take some leg-exercise breaks. Extend one leg out (while seated) and lift it 15 times while you squeeze your abs and your quadriceps; then repeat with the other leg. Also, don’t forget to get up and walk around as often as you can during the day, whether it’s a trip outside or even just a walk over to a colleague’s desk to say hello.

Photo: Camille Styles

Drink lots of water

You’ve probably read that you’re supposed to drink more water countless times, but we promise there’s a reason it’s drilled into our brains. Drinking a big glass of water before each meal can help you lose more weight than just eating fewer calories alone. Bottoms up!


Load up on protein

Swap out your morning bagel for a hearty serving of eggs, lean meat, or fish. These three foods are high in iron, vitamin D, omega-3s, and branch chain amino acids, and help kick-start your metabolism for the day ahead.

Photo: Food Network

Snap some pics

If you’re already big into Instagramming photos of your food, keep it up! Studies show that keeping a digital food journal is more effective in raising awareness of and changing dietary decisions than writing things down—this way, you get a visual sense of your general diet. While you’re at it, try downloading a fitness tracker like MyFitnessPal (free in the App Store) to document your progress.

Photo: Kaboom Pics

Walk it out

Senior Byrdie editor Hallie Gould swears by walking everywhere to get in shape. If you can, try to walk to work or pick a lunch spot that’s farther away than usual to burn some extra calories without having to hit the gym.

Photo: Trop Rouge

Take 15

Hear us out on this one: Even if you classify yourself as a lazy girl, a 15-minute circuit is completely doable. Try this body-toning workout twice a week to get in shape in less than a month (seriously, you only need to do it two times a week). Take a break between episodes of House of Cards and try this “30-1 method”—you’ll thank us later.

Photo: Oysho


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