Ever notice how your workout routine is disrupted by a stressful day? Are you working on a big project, or dealing with difficult clients? Did you get stuck in traffic on your way home? Or, maybe you just spent an hour scrolling through pintrest and instagram? Although these things are not physically taxing on the body and seem completely unrelated, they all are in fact mentally draining. Studies show that a workout performed in these conditions will ultimately suffer.
Research has shown that when people perform mentally fatiguing tasks prior to a big workout, they become exhausted at a much faster rate than those who did the same exercise after a period of mental rest. You may be wondering what on earth mental fatigue has to do with your muscles. The brain perceives mental and physical effort the same. While the heart is working the same in both scenarios, your body feels like it has been working longer and that “perceived effort” will impair your workout.
Does this mean you need to give up your day job so you can have good workouts? Of course not. There are several things we can do to help boost energy when we feel mentally drained.
- Avoid social media just before a workout. Scrolling just immediately prior to exercise has been shown to cause agitation, which will contribute to the mental strain. Instead, save the scrolling for after the workout.
- Meditate. Don’t go straight form work to exercise. Try some breathing exercises, or a quick yoga session to center yourself and relieve stress before your workout.
- Rinse with caffeine and carbohydrates. Quickly squish your mouth with a sports drink containing caffeine and sugar. Studies show this boosts performance and helps combat the mental fatigue.
“Being Tired Doesn’t Mean You’ll Have a Bad Workout.” DailyFitnessTip. http://dailyfitnesstip.com/tired-bad-workout
“Mental Fatigue Can Affect Physical Endurance.” American Physiological Society. Science News: Feb 26, 2009.
Volpe, SL. “Carbohydrate and Caffeine Mouth Rinsing and Exercise Performance.” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. Sept/Oct, 2017. 21: 5, 46-47.