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Brain Drain Weighs Down Physical Performance

There’s a good chance you’ve heard a coach say the sport you’re trying to master is 90% mental and 10% physical. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness illustrates the importance of mental sharpness in competition.

Thirteen high school aged kayakers took an hour long test designed to assess cognitive focus and processing speed. This left them mentally fatigued. These subjects then raced a 2,000 meter time trial against kayakers who did not take the brain test.

Researchers found that mental fatigue contributed to a slight decrease in power output and stroke rate along with an increase in the rate of perceived exertion. These competitors finished the race about a second slower than a control group of athletes who were not mentally fatigued.