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What Is Imagery?

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jan 01, 2005

Many fitness instructors use imagery techniques that draw on personal experiences of athletic events or nature outings to enhance indoor cycling classes or lead relaxation during a cooldown. More and more research supports the benefits of using imagery to achieve specific objectives like improved performance or deep relaxation. To create a standard definition across scientific disciplines for more consistent research, investigators at Florida International University School of Nursing in Miami reviewed the concept of imagery and developed a definition, published in the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine (2004; 20 [2], 4–10).

Study authors found that mental imagery is often referred to as visualization. Typical characteristics of imagery include mental, physical, emotional, dynamic, process-related and quasirealistic references. Authors offered the following working definition for research going forward: “Imagery, a mental function, is a lived experience that is a dynamic, quasireal, psychophysiological process.” The researchers would like this definition to provide a foundation for further research.

Fitness Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1

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© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at