Overtraining Exhausts Mind as well as Body, Says Study
A new study has shown that overtraining can exhaust the mind as well as the body, emphasizing the importance of structured workouts in which you moderate intensity.
In the study researchers imposed an excessive training load on triathletes and each of them showed a form of mental fatigue.
This fatigue included reduced activity in a portion of the brain important for making decisions. The athletes also acted more impulsively, opting for immediate rewards instead of bigger ones that would take longer to achieve.
Author of the study Mathias Pessiglione of Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris said: “The lateral prefrontal region that was affected by sport-training overload was exactly the same that had been shown vulnerable to excessive cognitive work in our previous studies.
“This brain region therefore appeared as the weak spot of the brain network responsible for cognitive control.”
Together, the studies suggest a connection between mental and physical effort: both require cognitive control.
The reason such control is essential in demanding athletic training, they suggest, is that to maintain physical effort and reach a distant goal requires cognitive control.
“You need to control the automatic process that makes you stop when muscles or joints hurt,” Pessiglione says.
TIn essence, the findings show that while endurance sport is generally good for your health, overdoing it can have adverse effects on your brain.