Summary: Participating in mentally demanding tasks and experiencing mental fatigue can have a significant impact on your physical performance, according to a new study.
Source: University of Birmingham
People doing mentally demanding tasks are likely to find it harder to keep up with physical exercise, a study has found.
Researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham measured the effects of cognitive tasks on a group of 16 men and women to examine what happened to their perception of physical exertion. Their results showed that mentally fatigued participants had an increased sense of exertion during physical exercise.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, suggest that considering the effects of mental fatigue during training can help athletes perform better.
In light of their findings, the researchers recommend that coaches reduce athletes’ exposure to mentally challenging tasks, such as smartphone use, before and during training and competitions. Longer term, they should consider “brain endurance training” to increase resistance to mental fatigue.
Lead author Dr Chris Ring said: “We know that the brain plays a role in physical performance, but the specific effects of mental fatigue have not been well understood.
“We know that athletes will often be browsing their smartphones during breaks between competition and training. All of this requires mental effort and our results strongly suggest that athletes and coaches need to better understand the effects of these activities on performance. global.
During testing, participants completed a 90-minute mental task of identifying sequences of letters on a screen. They then completed a set of weightlifting reps. A control group watched neutral videos before participating in the physical task.
In a second experiment, participants performed a series of resistance training exercises, followed by a 20-minute bicycle time trial. They performed cognitive tasks before and between exercises with a control group while again watching a neutral video. After the cognitive tasks, participants took an online test to confirm fatigue levels.
In each experiment, the researchers recorded an increase in perceived exertion — how difficult it was to perform the task — among the mentally fatigued participants. In the second experiment, the researchers also noticed reduced power in the cycling time trial and less distance traveled in mentally fatigued participants.
The research team has already begun testing the links between mental fatigue and performance among groups of elite athletes in “real world” exercise scenarios.
About this exercise and current mental fatigue research
Author: Beck Lockwood
Source: University of Birmingham
Contact: Beck Lockwood – University of Birmingham
Picture: Image is in public domain
Original research: Access closed.
“Mental Fatigue: The Cost of Cognitive Load on Weightlifting, Resistance Training, and Cycling Performance” by Chris Ring et al. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Mental Fatigue: The Cost of Cognitive Load on Weightlifting, Resistance Training, and Cycling Performance
Aim: Mental fatigue (MF) can impair physical performance in sport. We tested the hypothesis that cognitive load alone, and mixed with standard resistance training, would induce MF, increase rating of perceived exertion (RPE), alter perception of weight lifting and training and alter cycling time trial performance.
Methods: This two-part study used a within-participant design. In part 1, after establishing the leg extension 1 rep maximum (1RM), 16 participants lifted and briefly held weights at 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% of 1RM. RPE and electromyography (EMG) were measured for each lift. During the test sessions, participants performed cognitive tasks (MF condition) or watched neutral videos (control condition) for 90 minutes before lifting the weights.
In part 2, they did a submaximal resistance workout consisting of 6 strength training exercises followed by a 20-minute bike time trial. In the MF condition, they performed cognitive tasks before and between resistance exercises. In the control condition, they watched neutral videos. Mood (Brunel Mood Scale), Task Load (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index), MF Visual Analogue Scale (MF-VAS), RPE, Psychomotor Alertness, Distance Traveled, Power , heart rate and blood lactate were measured.
Results: In Part 1, the cognitive task increased lift-induced RPE (P = 0.011), increased MF-VAS (P= 0.002), and altered mood (P< 0.001) compared to the control. EMG did not differ between conditions. In Part 2, cognitive tasks increased RPE (P< .001), MF-VAS (P< 0.001) and mental workload (P< 0.001), but reduced bike power against the clock (P= .032) and distance (P= 0.023) compared to the control. Heart rate and blood lactate did not differ between conditions.
Conclusion:A state of MF induced by cognitive load, alone or mixed with physical load, increased RPE during weightlifting and training and impaired subsequent cycling performance.