Last week, I raised the question as to why we so often read about the de-stressing effects of exercise but so rarely read about how stress might affect exercise performance.
Well, today is the day I promised to share the results of my research, but here’s the deal:
I only found one academic source on this topic, and it was published three years ago. Of course, that the source is aged doesn’t necessarily equate to the source being wrong. It’s just nice to find really current stuff; especially when one considers how quickly the fitness and health industry changes.
In March 2009, Samuele Marcora, Walter Staiano and Victoria Manning got the results of their study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology under the title, “Mental Fatigue Impairs Physical Performance in Humans” (the article was published online two months earlier).
The bottom line up front is that people required to do heavier cognitive functions just prior to and during physical exercise more quickly experienced fatigue symptoms than those who were not subject to such cognitive stimuli. In other words, gym performance levels nosedived sooner with more stress.
In their words:
“In conclusion, our study provides experimental evidence that mental fatigue limits exercise tolerance in humans through higher perception of effort rather than cardiorespiratory and musculoenergetic mechanisms. Future research in this area should investigate the common neurocognitive resources shared by physical and mental activity.”
Cool. So what’s been done since then? My answer: “I have no idea.” There just isn’t much out there on this subject (other than opinion pieces, many of which make logical arguments but are not based on hard research). That’s really not too surprising, though.
According to the journal article, the last thing published on the subject prior to this article by Marcora et al was back in 1891 by Angelo Mosso in a “seminal book” that suggested long orations by university professors reduced the educators’ physical strength. “Seminal” was the word Marcora used. If it truly was a seminal work, why did it take 118 years to get a follow up article? Weird, huh?
Regardless, the article provides a few interesting facts to consider. It’s not too long to read (about five minutes if you scan). The most poignant takeaway for me was (as it usually happens) in the summary:
“Such studies may benefit not only endurance athletes, but also military personnel involved in physical work after prolonged periods of vigilance, and patients affected by unexplained chronic fatigue syndromes such as myalgic encephalomyelitis.”
That might explain a lot! At least for me.
Work out earlier in the day before the day’s stress overtakes you and negatively affects your workout. Of course, when it comes right down to it, none of the possible negative side effects of stress on workout potential should keep someone from hitting the gym after knocking off for the day. Some results are better than none!
With Wednesday being Independence Day, I won’t post that day. Friday, though, is fair game. Keep charging toward your goals. Until then…
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