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An experimental study of the effects of mental practice and physical practice upon muscular endurance. Kelsey, Ian Bruce

Abstract

Two problems were examined with respect to muscular endurance of the abdominal and thigh flexor muscles: first, the hypothesis that muscular endurance can be increased through mental rehearsal of a particular item of endurance; second, that the increase, if any, would be as great as, or greater than that achieved through sole physical practice of the same item. Thirty-six subjects were selected from the required physical education programme at The University of British Columbia to engage in the experiment. They were equated into three groups on the basis of similar results obtained in two sit-up tests. One group served as a control, the second group practised sit-ups physically and the third group mentally rehearsed sit-ups. Following the initial tests the first group did not practise again for twenty days; the second group physically practised sit-ups for five minutes on each of twenty days; and the third group mentally rehearsed sit-ups for five minutes on each of the twenty days. On the final day individuals of all three groups were re-examined in the original sit-up test. Results indicated that muscular endurance of the abdominal and thigh flexor muscles is increased significantly over a twenty day period by a daily five minute mental practice of sit-ups. It was also found, however, that the increase was significantly smaller than that achieved by a daily five minute physical practice of sit-ups. It was concluded that where physical practice is at all possible this method is recommended over mental practice to facilitate an increase in muscular endurance. Two recommendations of further study in the area of mental practice and muscular endurance were made.

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