The brains/brawn connection


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We kind of figured this already, but now it’s official: Your will power plays a key role in muscle fatigue.

Researchers from the University of Zurich discovered neuronal processes for the first time that are responsible for reducing muscle activity during muscle-fatiguing exercise.

You know that little voice in your head that sometimes creeps up and says “ugh, I can’t…” when you are in the middle of a workout? And then five minutes later you’re sitting down panting? That’s motivation leaving your brain, making you feel more tired than you really are.

In tests using a bicycle ergometer (stationary bicycle with an instrument to measure the work done by the user), the researchers determined that the communication between the part of the brain involved in perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning and interpersonal experience (insular cortex), and the part of the brain that generates the neural impulses controlling execution of movement (motoric area) became more intensive as the fatigue progressed.

“This can be regarded as evidence that the neuronal system found not only informs the brain, but also actually has a regulating effect on motoric activity,” says Lea Hilty, one of the researchers in the study, in a press release.

What should you tell yourself when mental fatigue hits? Here are some tips from our Sweatidor:

* Eyes on the prize. Visualize your goal and remind yourself how badly you want it!

* A step backward. If you quit now, it’ll set you back a day’s worth of progress.

* Nip that thought in the bud! You will become used to quitting and more likely to do it again.

* Regrets. If you’re like me, you will feel guilty all day for not finishing your workout strong.