Mental Fatigue Makes Workouts Harder

Wow, new findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggest being mentally tired may cause you to become exhausted more quickly during exercise, but researchers claim your muscles and heart don’t underperform. It’s your “perceived effort” that’s dragging you down. On one day 16 participants were given a demanding 90-minute test and on another day they watched TV for 90-minutes. When put on a stationary bike 15% of subjects stopped exercising sooner when they were mentally pooped; Reuters explains.

I relate to this big time! Tell me if you do too. A year ago I exercised a ton; Yoga, running, weights and more running! But I couldn’t do it anymore, too busy. Nowadays, DiseaseProof draws major attention, so I had to step up my game, hopefully you’ve noticed. Long story short, I was leaving the gym near death. Now I’ve cut back. I still exercise 6 days a week, but for shorter intervals and no more working out twice a day. That was crazy!

Clearly, pushing yourself to mental and physical exhaustion is a dumb idea. Our bodies need sufficient rest and recovery to function properly and previous reports insist Americans are overworked and under-slept. So cut yourself a break. You probably need it.

Image credit: Happy Dave

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
diane lassen - February 26, 2009 7:53 AM

The beauty of exercise is that it can take you away from your hectic, frazzled work day and transport you into literally another world. Eastern meditative types have know for centuries that learning to focus the mind on the present moment, whether exercising, walking or chopping vegetables, can reduce stress, and improve energy and wellbeing. Think of this as a form of mindfulness meditation. Instead of seeing exercise as just another thing to check off your to-do list, use it as a means toward centered,focused being. I have a very fast-paced job, and I often feel very stressed and out of control. When I grab my dog's leash and head out for my hike, I initially start with a body scan to see where my tension lies, and as I hike, I try to de-stress those areas. I try to also focus on my breath to keep me in the NOW rather than using the time to rehearse tomorrow or review today. I find this type of exercise mode to me particularly invigorating not just to the body but also for the mind. Often when I think I am too tired to work out, just by getting going and finding my "place" through conscious breathwork and being present in the moment, I can find that energy to make it a good session. I finish more relaxed than beaten!
I hope you will try this-- it may just be the thing you need. Diane

Steve - February 26, 2009 8:36 AM

Hi Gerry
When I would work as a computer programmer, I found I needed to get a workout in by early afternoon at the very latest, or else it was not going to happen. Brain fatigue certainly does impact performance, and even the desire to perform a workout.

It sounds like you have discovered 'overtraining'. Very common. Think of athletes peaking for an event. Their performance is getting better and better, but this improvement is not going to happen forever. At some point you have your event, then take a break from training, and slowly build back up again.

Some methods are overly formal, but the buzzword is 'periodization'. This is a way of balancing different modes and intensities of training, to try to avoid overtraining, and to peak at the right time, say when you are going to do a charity run or something.

Cheers, Steve

Cho Yung Tea - June 2, 2010 11:25 PM

Plz help me Gerald Pugliese... i am a computer addicted person ...i am suffering from back pain and wrist pain...do you have any exercise tips for that ..plz write on this.....

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