Mental exercise to beat fatigue and become a better athlete

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Since the entry into phase 0 of the alarm state allowed relief measures for those over 14 years of age, there are many Spaniards who have taken advantage to recover physical activity outdoor. The sidewalks of the cities have been filled with ‘runners’ and bicycles, although some still prefer the simple and relaxed walk as a form of sport.

Surely after spending more than fifty days locked up and going back to physical activity you get tired more than normal. Obviously, you have to start small. Specialists and coaches recommend limiting the amount of time spent to more than half or reducing the distances we used to travel. You can’t pretend to get back to your pre-quarantine fitness overnight, But what you can do is put all the resources in place to take the shortest possible time to reach the previous physical form.

In studies, placebo shows that there is a feeling of having high levels of oxygen in the lungs even though they are actually low

There is a very effective mental trick to overcome fatigue that can also be applied to different health problems. This is the placebo effect, known above all in the world of medicine, but which has had very good results through various experiments also in the field of physical activity. Fabrizio Benedetti, a scientist at the University of Turin, has been experimenting with this mind trick on high mountain bikers. How?

It is well known that in the highest peaks there is the phenomenon of altitude sickness among mountaineers. The atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude, which affects the lungs, preventing the alveoli from transporting the same amount of oxygen to the blood as in a higher pressure situation. Hypoxia then occurs, that is, lack of oxygen, what is inevitable. Therefore, it is recommended that mountaineers or athletes at altitude carry an oxygen cylinder with them to alleviate this lack of air and its corresponding feeling of fatigue.


Even if you have become accustomed to always training in the same way, a small change in your routine will increase the loss of fat from your body

What Benedetti discovered is that supplying these oxygen cylinders to empty riders had a similar effect on their performance than if they were actually full. It only works if the tank is offered full a few times previously. That way, the body is waiting to receive a blow of oxygen, a breath of air that is not really there. So how is it possible for the body to consume oxygen that is not actually available or exists? “That is the million dollar question,” Benedetti stresses in a BBC report. “There is no oxygen in the blood or in the body, but it has the same effect as if there were. The answer is that we don’t know anything yet.”

In 2006, a study brought together a group of professional cyclists for a ten-kilometer race. Each of them was administered an alleged dose of caffeine in small and high doses. Actually, there was no caffeine anywhere. The result was that those who were previously informed that they would consume the high dose had a 3% increase in their energy, compared to those who were told to consume the small dose, who felt much more tired.

It is as if athletes get a better economy from their bodies thanks to the placebo

“A 3% difference in performance is not much,” he admits. Chris Beedie, from the University of Kent School of Psychology and co-author of the study, in the British environment. “But as far as high competition is concerned, this may be the difference between winning an Olympic medal or not even entering the top 10. Athletes work very hard to achieve that extra 3%. “

Scientists are very excited about the possibilities that counterfeit drugs can offer to athletes who are struggling day by day to get better brands. Beedie says that they themselves claim to be “much more motivated” or “more excited.”

The confidential

Placebo prescription rates, according to data from several international studies, range from 17 to 80 percent

“It is very difficult to come up with any conclusive theory, as everything is in the experimentation phase,” admits Beedie. “The data is not definitive, but it is true that 2 to 3% higher performance It is not complemented by a higher heart rate, an accumulation of increased lactate in the blood or increased pulmonary ventilation. What we perceive is that the athlete simply tries harder. It is as if athletes get a better economy from their bodies thanks to the placebo, like a car that runs more kilometers than another with the same amount of fuel.

Experiments like this point to the importance of the subconscious in our body, even for physical performance. For all these reasons, you will surely not run the same as at the beginning of the quarantine, but perhaps the step that will make you regain the energy and vigor of before consists only in finding a motivation strong enough to make you sure of your possibilities. . Courage and do not let your spirits drop in this de-escalation towards the so-called ‘New Normality’, which is also physical and individual.



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