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Can Exercise Negatively Impact Mental Concentration?

Posted by Dr. Robert Portman on 7/31/2019 to Performance Tip Of The Week
Can Exercise Negatively Impact Mental Concentration?

That almost sounds like hearsay since the positive benefits of regular exercise on health parameters are well documented. Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise decreases the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and can even impact the severity and onset of Alzheimer’s. Non-controlled studies also show individuals that exercise regularly have a more positive attitude about life and are better able to focus.
 
However a key question is whether exercise improves cognitive performance such as mental concentration and focus. That may not be the case according to a recently published report that examined 79 peer reviewed studies. The researchers found that exercise decreases mental concentration and focus. The cause of the decreased cognitive function appeared to be dehydration and the dehydration threshold appeared to be a 2% loss in body weight. The investigators found there was a direct correlation between dehydration and drop in cognitive performance. Most athletes are aware of the relationship between exercise performance, fatigue and dehydration. Based on this report they should be aware that as little as a 2% drop in body weight due to dehydration (which is not much for endurance athletes) can cause a statistically significant impairment in cognitive function.
 
The bottom line – pay particular attention to re-hydration after exercise on the way back to your computer if you don’t want it to affect your cognitive skills such as focus, mental concentration and motor coordination. A simple test is to check the color of your urine. It should be the color of pale lemonade.


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