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A workout can be a great way to unwind after a stressful day, but ruminating over that unpleasant meeting with your boss may make your exercise session less effective.

New research suggests that if your brain is tired, the rest of your body may be tired as well, because the two go hand in hand. Why is it that mental and physical fatigue are so closely connected?

Part of the answer is that physical and mental fatigue affect the same region of your brain-the anterior cingulate cortex. If that part of your brain is broadcasting “my brain is fried” signals at the end of the day, then it’s likely your muscles will be tired even before you head for the gym.

Exercising after the occasional harrowing day is unavoidable, but if you are
chronically stressed, you could be seriously derailing your fitness goals. A new study in the
Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology1 found that mental burnout significantly affected physical performance.

Runners were intentionally stressed by being forced to complete a difficult computer test immediately before a 1.86-mile race (3,000-meters). The race times for runners who had taken the test were about 15 seconds slower than for the runners who hadn’t taken it.

But the deleterious effects of stress are actually farther reaching.2, 3 In this article, we will review 10 ways stress can sabotage your fitness efforts. If you walk around in a semi-permanent state of overwhelm, perhaps your next workout should consist of several rounds of high-intensity stress management-instead of crunches or curls!