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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Study Spotlight: The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review


By: Joel Luedke

This is one of those titles that you would think you just inherently know the the answer.  Of course there is going to be some effect of on your performance based on your mental state. Seems obvious right?  That was my line of thinking when going into this article and I even hesitated to read it but I'm glad I did because what they found I thought was very interesting*.  Worth checking out the summary below as it could have profound impact on how you approach exercise and workouts.


*This was a review study looking back on everything associated with this topic.

What They Did:
As mentioned above this was a review of the literature from two of the biggest journal databases in the world.  They look as far back as they could and found a total of 11 articles that they included.  This leaves open the possibility of a very open ended topic and one that more research could be done.

What They Found: 
The general findings I feel were not that surprising in that they found that there was a decline in endurance performance and an associated higher than normal perceived exertion when mental fatigue was present.  The other results I think were more eye opening.  The physiological variables that are often associated with endurance performance (i.e. heart rate, blood lactate, O2 uptake, cardiac output, max aerobic capacity) were not affected by mental fatigue.  Beyond that maximal strength, power, and anaerobic work were also unaffected by mental fatigue.

What It All Means:
Going to back to the obvious part we were talking about above I think the results show that you have a decrease in performance with mental fatigue and most would agree from personal experience.  The part I found most interesting with this study is that the physiological variables that were measured were not affected.  I think this leads us into a very powerful place in that you have so much control of what you body does through your mind and your thought process.

There are plenty of days when we don't want to do what we need to get done in life and in training.  The results of this study can suggest that if you are able to put yourself into a better state that you may be able to control your performance because it appears to not be related to your physiology.  See if you can work yourself out of having a bad performance due to mental fatigue by not "having" to do something but "getting" to do something and make the most out of it.  From the results above your body will let you.


LINK: The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review
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