For some, this posting will be of no surprise. For others, you may think, "Oh... that's interesting." Mindfulness has become a fairly ubiquitus term - at least to me. Depending on the person, it may conjure up something like chanting from the yoga ashrams in India or the solitary quietude of Jon Kabat-Zinn's take from a medical perspective.
There has been significant research on meditation and it's effects on health, however mindfulness comes in many shapes and sizes as you will see. Published on October 1st, 2014, the Journal of Neurophysiology put on display yet another strong indicator of how our thoughts influence function with "The Power of the Mind: The Cortex as a Critical Determinant of Muscle Strength/Weakness." This research project tests the the theory that the nervous system is a critical player in the determination of muscle strength.
For the research, participants were tested for wrist flexor strength and then separated into 3 groups. One group was sent on their way. The other two groups were given wrist immobilization casts (same as for a broken bone) to induce weakness through lack of use. One of those two groups was sent on their way. The remaining group was given a visualization exercise to perform 5 days per week of the study. The exercise was to intently imagine they were flexing the immobilized wrist strongly for 4 specific timed interval repetitions over 13 sets of repetitions. At the end of the 4 week study, all groups were measured for strength again and the visualization group retained 50% more strength than the non-visualization group. This, without actually doing any physical exercise, retained the strength in the arm.
I think this is yet another example that each and every thought guides function with respect to your whole body. If you haven't started a mindfulness practice, perhaps this may help to give some additional consideration. It doesn't have to be meditation or even a yoga practice, you can start with being present in a simple fashion in a simple activity. I love my walking meditation in the mountains of Annadel State Park. Though the challenge is to try to get this practice into a framework for life's other moments as well.