When it Comes to Exercise, Don’t Think Too Much

Exploring Intensity

When it Comes to Exercise, Don’t Think Too Much

There is a pretty surprising study out of Cambridge University that gives us a new way too look at how trying to exercise, and also using brain power, sets off a competition where they both fight to gain the upper hand.

And who wins?

Well, first the scientists had 62 fit college rowers come in and go through three studies, according to this article:

During one visit, the men sat quietly while dozens of words were displayed on a large screen in front of them. The men had three minutes to memorize the words and then, immediately afterward (when the screen went dark) write down as many as they could remember. This was their mental task. 

On another day, they rowed on a rowing machine as intensely as they could for three minutes while the researchers tracked their power output, testing muscular prowess.

Finally, on the last visit, they rowed for three minutes while simultaneously viewing a list of new words and then, immediately afterward, writing down as many as they could recall.

What the scientists found out was that trying to do both at once set them back both physically and mentally. But the real setback was the physical part — while their cognition was down, they suffered a 30% greater handicap when it came to their rowing.

Scientists believe that this may be because both the brain and the body are competing for blood sugar and the brain, by evolutionary design, wins out.

Now, this was just a small study, but it may have some implications for you. We doubt you are doing math problems in your head while you run, but it might be best to just let your mind wander and keep thoughts as clear as possible when you’re exercising. If there is only a finite amount of fuel in your body, when you’re working out it’s best to give as much as you can to that task. Your brain will thank you later.

-Shane M.