In fact, when you read about a character performing an action, your brain responds as if you were performing that action yourself. In so doing, your brain absorbs that experience as if it were your own and files it away in that repository of knowledge it can draw on in the future.
tribal X - fiction is important. dammit.
This is why I like to read LJs, web-fiction, eBooks and other content, be it fictional or biographical, on my mac while I knit. I may not get out much but at least I can experience life vicariously.