Prior Acute Mental Exertion in Exercise and Sport

Fernando Lopes e Silva-Júnior1, 2, *, Patrick Emanuel1, Jordan Sousa1, Matheus Silva1, Silmar Teixeira1, 2, Flávio Oliveira Pires3, Sérgio Machado4, Oscar Arias-Carrion5
1 Federal University of Piauí (UFPI), Parnaíba, Piauí, Brazil
2 Brain Mapping and Plasticity Laboratory, Federal University of Piauí (UFPI), Parnaiba, Piauí, Brazil
3 Exercise Psychophysiology Research Group, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo, Brazil
4 Physical Activity Neuroscience, Physical Activity Sciences Post-Graduate Program, Salgado Oliveira University, Nitéroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Panic and Respiration Lab, Institute of Psichiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 Unidad de Trastornos del Movimiento y Estimulación Magnética, Hospital General Dr. Manuel Gea Gonzalez, Mexico City, Mexico

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Creative Commons License
© Silva-Júnior et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access articles licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Medicine, Federal University of Piauí, Parnaíba, Piauí, Brazil, Capitão Claro Avenue, 382, City Center, Parnaíba, Piauí, Brazil; Tel: +55-86-33159955; E-mail:



Mental exertion is a psychophysiological state caused by sustained and prolonged cognitive activity. The understanding of the possible effects of acute mental exertion on physical performance, and their physiological and psychological responses are of great importance for the performance of different occupations, such as military, construction workers, athletes (professional or recreational) or simply practicing regular exercise, since these occupations often combine physical and mental tasks while performing their activities. However, the effects of implementation of a cognitive task on responses to aerobic exercise and sports are poorly understood. Our narrative review aims to provide information on the current research related to the effects of prior acute mental fatigue on physical performance and their physiological and psychological responses associated with exercise and sports.


The literature search was conducted using the databases PubMed, ISI Web of Knowledge and PsycInfo using the following terms and their combinations: “mental exertion”, “mental fatigue”, “mental fatigue and performance”, “mental exertion and sports” “mental exertion and exercise”.


We concluded that prior acute mental exertion affects effectively the physiological and psychophysiological responses during the cognitive task, and performance in exercise.


Additional studies involving prior acute mental exertion, exercise/sports and physical performance still need to be carried out in order to analyze the physiological, psychophysiological and neurophysiological responses subsequently to acute mental exertion in order to identify cardiovascular factors, psychological, neuropsychological associates.

Keywords: Cognitive exertion, Cardiovascular, Exercise, Neurophysiological, Performance, Psychological, Sport.