Mind Over Matter: Can Your Brain Fight Fatigue?

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3705287120_e5b428e198Fatigue has long been considered a biochemical phenomenon: You get tired from running because of a buildup of lactic acid in your legs — or maybe because the muscles don’t have enough oxygen or fuel.

But what explains the incredible sight of marathon runners who sprint the final hundred yards of a 26.2 mile race? Or the gutsy performances of athletes who push beyond their physical limits when the finish line comes into view? If fatigue is something that can only be explained by biology, how and why do people often finish exhausting races faster than at any other point?

Because the mind matters.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Physiology, cyclists swished various liquids in their mouths but did not swallow. The cyclists who had rinsed with the carbohydrate drinks — and spit them out — finished significantly faster than the water group. Their heart rates and power output were also higher, even though they never swallowed the liquid. The conclusion: the mind can often overcome the physical barriers of fatigue.

Read more here.

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