Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effects of Prior Cognitive Exertion on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis



An emerging body of the literature in the past two decades has generally shown that prior cognitive exertion is associated with a subsequent decline in physical performance. Two parallel, but overlapping, bodies of literature (i.e., ego depletion, mental fatigue) have examined this question. However, research to date has not merged these separate lines of inquiry to assess the overall magnitude of this effect.


The present work reports the results of a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis examining carryover effects of cognitive exertion on physical performance.


A systematic search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus was conducted. Only randomized controlled trials involving healthy humans, a central executive task requiring cognitive exertion, an easier cognitive comparison task, and a physical performance task were included.


A total of 73 studies provided 91 comparisons with 2581 participants. Random effects meta-analysis showed a significant small-to-medium negative effect of prior cognitive exertion on physical performance (g = − 0.38 [95% CI − 0.46, − 0.31]). Subgroup analyses showed that cognitive tasks lasting < 30-min (g = − 0.45) and ≥ 30-min (g = − 0.30) have similar significant negative effects on subsequent physical performance. Prior cognitive exertion significantly impairs isometric resistance (g = − 0.57), motor (g = − 0.57), dynamic resistance (g = − 0.51), and aerobic performance (g = − 0.26), but the effects on maximal anaerobic performance are trivial and non-significant (g = 0.10). Studies employing between-subject designs showed a medium negative effect (g = − 0.65), whereas within-subject designs had a small negative effect (g = − 0.28).


Findings demonstrate that cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance that is not due to chance and suggest that previous meta-analysis results may have underestimated the overall effect.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Data availability

The dataset generated during and analyzed for the present review is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. 1.

    We acknowledge the seminal thinking and first research on the connection between mental fatigue and physical performance that was carried out by Angelo Mosso in 1906. However, given the extent of reporting in Mosso’s writings, the data could not be included in the analysis.

  2. 2.

    McMorris et al. [5] originally reported an effect size of g = − 0.27 which has since been corrected.

  3. 3.

    Bray et al. [22] examined maximal anaerobic performance (d = 0.05) and isometric performance (d = 0.50) and was, therefore classified as multiple indices of physical performance.


  1. 1.

    Englert C. The strength model of self-control in sport and exercise psychology. Front Psychol. 2016;7:314.

  2. 2.

    Silva-Júnior FL, Emanuel P, Sousa J, Silva M, Teixeira S, Pires FO, et al. Prior acute mental exertion in exercise and sport. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2016;12:95–107.

  3. 3.

    Pageaux B, Lepers R. The effects of mental fatigue on sport-related performance. Prog Brain Res. 2018;240:291–315.

  4. 4.

    Van Cutsem J, Marcora S, De Pauw K, Bailey S, Meeusen R, Roelands B. The effects of mental fatigue on physical performance: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2017;47:1569–88.

  5. 5.

    McMorris T, Barwood M, Hale BJ, Dicks M, Corbett J. Cognitive fatigue effects on physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiol Behav. 2018;188:103–7.

  6. 6.

    Ciarocco NJ, Sommer KL, Baumeister RF. Ostracism and ego depletion: The strains of silence. Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2001;27:1156–63.

  7. 7.

    Martijn C, Tenbült P, Merckelbach H, Dreezens E, de Vries NK. Getting a grip on ourselves: Challenging expectancies about loss of energy after self-control. Soc Cog. 2002;20:441–60.

  8. 8.

    Muraven M, Tice DM, Baumeister RF. Self-control as a limited resource: regulatory depletion patterns. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998;74:774–89.

  9. 9.

    Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Tice DM. The strength model of self-control. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2007;16:351–5.

  10. 10.

    Baumeister RF, Bratslavsky E, Muraven M, Tice DM. Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998;74:1252–65.

  11. 11.

    Hagger MS, Wood C, Stiff C, Chatzisarantis NL. Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. 2010;136:495–525.

  12. 12.

    Carter EC, Kofler LM, Forster DE, McCullough ME. A series of meta-analytic tests of the depletion effect: self-control does not seem to rely on a limited resource. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2015;144:796–815.

  13. 13.

    Hagger MS, Chatzisarantis NL, Alberts H, et al. A multilab preregistered replication of the ego-depletion effect. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2016;11:546–73.

  14. 14.

    Baumeister RF, Tice DM, Vohs KD. The strength model of self-regulation: Conclusions from the second decade of willpower research. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2018;13:141–5.

  15. 15.

    Cunningham MR, Baumeister RF. How to make nothing out of something: Analyses of the impact of study sampling and statistical interpretation in misleading meta-analytic conclusions. Front Psychol. 2016;25(7):1639.

  16. 16.

    Dang J. Commentary: a multilab preregistered replication of the ego-depletion effect. Front Psychol. 2016;7:1155.

  17. 17.

    Dang J. An updated meta-analysis of the ego depletion effect. Psychol Res. 2018;82:645–51.

  18. 18.

    Boksem MA, Tops M. Mental fatigue: costs and benefits. Brain Res Rev. 2008;59:125–39.

  19. 19.

    Pageaux B, Lepers R, Dietz KC, Marcora SM. Response inhibition impairs subsequent self-paced endurance performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014;114:1095–105.

  20. 20.

    Stroop JR. Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. J Exp Psychol. 1935;18:643–62.

  21. 21.

    Miyake A, Friedman NP, Emerson MJ, Witzki AH, Howerter A, Wager TD. The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “frontal lobe” tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cogn Psychol. 2000;41:49–100.

  22. 22.

    Bray SR, Martin Ginis KA, Hicks AL, Woodgate J. Effects of self-regulatory strength depletion on muscular performance and EMG activation. Psychophysiology. 2008;45:337–43.

  23. 23.

    Nuechterlein KH, Parasuraman R, Jiang Q. Visual sustained attention: image degradation produces rapid sensitivity decrement over time. Science. 1983;220:327–9.

  24. 24.

    Smith MR, Coutts AJ, Merlini M, Deprez D, Lenoir M, Marcora SM. Mental fatigue impairs soccer-specific physical and technical performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48:267–76.

  25. 25.

    Bray SR, Ginis KA, Woodgate J. Self-regulatory strength depletion and muscle-endurance performance: a test of the limited-strength model in older adults. J Aging Phys Act. 2011;19:177–88.

  26. 26.

    Brown DM, Bray SR. Graded increases in cognitive control exertion reveal a threshold effect on subsequent physical performance. Sport Exerc Perform Psychol. 2017;6:355–69.

  27. 27.

    Brown DM, Bray SR. Heart rate biofeedback attenuates effects of mental fatigue on exercise performance. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2019;41:70–9.

  28. 28.

    Graham JD, Bray SR. Imagery and endurance: does imagery impair performance by depleting self-control strength? J Imag Res Sport Phys Act. 2012;7:2.

  29. 29.

    Lubusko AA. Self-control and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: individual differences in ego depletion in a university sample. University of Manitoba; 2005. Accessed 1 Apr 2018.

  30. 30.

    Inzlicht M, Berkman E. Six questions for the resource model of control (and some answers). Soc Pers Psychol Comp. 2015;9:511–24.

  31. 31.

    Brown DM, Bray SR. Effects of mental fatigue on exercise intentions and behavior. Ann Behav Med. 2018;53:405–14.

  32. 32.

    Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG. Prisma Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6:e1000097.

  33. 33.

    Karr JE, Areshenkoff CN, Rast P, Hofer SM, Iverson GL, Garcia-Barrera MA. The unity and diversity of executive functions: a systematic review and re-analysis of latent variable studies. Psychol Bull. 2018;144:1147–85.

  34. 34.

    Hofmann W, Schmeichel BJ, Baddeley AD. Executive functions and self-regulation. Trends Cog Sci. 2012;16:174–80.

  35. 35.

    Rohatgi A. WebPlotDigitizer, Version 3.11. Texas, USA:2017. Accessed 1 June 2018.

  36. 36.

    Higgins JP, Green S. Handbook for systematic reviews of interventions version 5.1. 0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration. 2011. Accessed Mar 2011.

  37. 37.

    Borenstein M, Hedges L, Higgins J, Rothstein H. Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Version 3. Englewood: NJ; Biostat Inc; 2013.

  38. 38.

    Yusainy C, Lawrence C. Brief mindfulness induction could reduce aggression after depletion. Conscious Cogn. 2015;33:125–34.

  39. 39.

    Alberts HJ, Martijn C, De Vries NK. Fighting self-control failure: Overcoming ego depletion by increasing self-awareness. J Exp Soc Psychol. 2011;47:58–62.

  40. 40.

    Hagger MS, Leaver E, Esser K, Leung CM, Te Pas N, Keatley DA, et al. Cue-induced smoking urges deplete cigarette smokers’ self-control resources. Ann Behav Med. 2013;46:394–400.

  41. 41.

    Xu X, Demos KE, Leahey TM, Hart CN, Trautvetter J, Coward P, et al. Failure to replicate depletion of self-control. PloS One. 2014;9:e109950.

  42. 42.

    Otani H, Kaya M, Tamaki A, Watson P. Separate and combined effects of exposure to heat stress and mental fatigue on endurance exercise capacity in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017;117:119–29.

  43. 43.

    Penna EM, Filho E, Wanner SP, Campos BT, Quinan GR, Mendes TT, et al. Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in young swimmers. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2018;30:208–15.

  44. 44.

    Badin OO, Smith MR, Conte D, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue: impairment of technical performance in small-sided soccer games. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11:1100–5.

  45. 45.

    Le Mansec Y, Pageaux B, Nordez A, Dorel S, Jubeau M. Mental fatigue alters the speed and the accuracy of the ball in table tennis. J Sports Sci. 2018;36:2751–9.

  46. 46.

    Smith MR, Zeuwts L, Lenoir M, Hens N, De Jong LM, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue impairs soccer-specific decision-making skill. J Sports Sci. 2016;34:1297–304.

  47. 47.

    Leung CM, Stone WS, Lee EH, Seidman LJ, Chen EY. Impaired facilitation of self-control cognition by glucose in patients with schizophrenia: a randomized controlled study. Schizophr Res. 2014;156:38–45.

  48. 48.

    Boat R, Taylor IM. Manipulation of the initial self-control task, within the sequential-task paradigm, prior to endurance performance. 2018 (Unpublished manuscript).

  49. 49.

    Martin K, Staiano W, Menaspà P, Hennessey T, Marcora S, Keegan R, et al. Superior inhibitory control and resistance to mental fatigue in professional road cyclists. PloS One. 2016;11:e0159907.

  50. 50.

    Schucker L, MacMahon C, Parrington L, Schier M. Effects of cognitive fatigue on physical performance: Different cognitive tasks, physical tasks and participant characteristics. 2018 (Unpublished manuscript).

  51. 51.

    Shortz AE, Mehta RK. Cognitive challenges, aging, and neuromuscular fatigue. Physiol Behav. 2017;170:19–26.

  52. 52.

    Tyler JM, Burns KC. Triggering conservation of the self’s regulatory resources. Basic Appl Soc Psych. 2009;31:255–66.

  53. 53.

    Schücker L, MacMahon C. Working on a cognitive task does not influence performance in a physical fitness test. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2016;25:1–8.

  54. 54.

    Dorris DC, Power DA, Kenefick E. Investigating the effects of ego depletion on physical exercise routines of athletes. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2012;13:118–25.

  55. 55.

    Englert C, Bertrams A. Anxiety, ego depletion, and sports performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2012;34:580–99.

  56. 56.

    Seeley EA, Gardner WL. The “selfless” and self-regulation: the role of chronic other-orientation in averting self-regulatory depletion. Self Identity. 2003;2:103–17.

  57. 57.

    Brownsberger J, Edwards A, Crowther R, Cottrell D. Impact of mental fatigue on self-paced exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2013;34:1029–36.

  58. 58.

    Graham JD, Martin Ginis KA, Bray SR. Exertion of self-control increases fatigue, reduces task self-efficacy, and impairs performance of resistance exercise. Sport Exerc Perform Psychol. 2017;6:70.

  59. 59.

    Head JR, Tenan MS, Tweedell AJ, Price TF, LaFiandra ME, Helton WS. Cognitive fatigue influences time-on-task during bodyweight resistance training exercise. Front Physiol. 2016;7:373.

  60. 60.

    Head J, Tenan MS, Tweedell AJ, LaFiandra ME, Morelli F, Wilson KM, et al. Prior mental fatigue impairs marksmanship decision performance. Front Physiol. 2017;8:680.

  61. 61.

    Martin K, Thompson KG, Keegan R, Ball N, Rattray B. Mental fatigue does not affect maximal anaerobic exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015;115:715–25.

  62. 62.

    McEwan D, Ginis KA, Bray SR. The effects of depleted self-control strength on skill-based task performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2013;35:239–49.

  63. 63.

    Salam H, Marcora SM, Hopker JG. The effect of mental fatigue on critical maximal anaerobic during cycling exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018;118:85–92.

  64. 64.

    Smith MR, Marcora SM, Coutts AJ. Mental fatigue impairs intermittent running performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47:1682–90.

  65. 65.

    Veness D, Patterson SD, Jeffries O, Waldron M. The effects of mental fatigue on cricket-relevant performance among elite players. J Sports Sci. 2017;35:2461–7.

  66. 66.

    Pageaux B, Marcora S, Lepers R. Prolonged mental exertion does not alter neuromuscular function of the knee extensors. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013;45:2254–64.

  67. 67.

    Borenstein M, Hedges LV, Higgins JP, Rothstein HR. Introduction to meta-analysis. West Sussex, UK: Wiley; 2011.

  68. 68.

    Egger M, Smith GD, Schneider M, Minder C. Bias in meta-analysis detected by a simple, graphical test. BMJ. 1997;315:629–34.

  69. 69.

    Rosenthal R. The file drawer problem and tolerance for null results. Psychol Bull. 1979;86:638.

  70. 70.

    Zering JC, Brown DM, Graham JD, Bray SR. Cognitive control exertion leads to reductions in peak maximal anaerobic output and as well as increased perceived exertion on a graded exercise test to exhaustion. J Sports Sci. 2017;35:1799–807.

  71. 71.

    von Hippel PT. The heterogeneity statistic I 2 can be biased in small meta-analyses. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2015;15:35.

  72. 72.

    Magarino LS, Madhivanan P. Cognitive fatigue effects on physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis-correspondence. Physiol Behav. 2019;198:159–60.

  73. 73.

    McMorris T, Barwood M, Hale BJ, Dicks M, Corbett J. Response to criticisms of “Cognitive fatigue effects on physical performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Physiol Behav. 2019;198:162–3.

  74. 74.

    Boat R, Taylor IM, Hulston CJ. Self-control exertion and glucose supplementation prior to endurance performance. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2017;29:103–10.

  75. 75.

    Tyler JM, Burns KC. After depletion: the replenishment of the self’s regulatory resources. Self Identity. 2008;7:305–21.

  76. 76.

    Wolff W, Sieber V, Bieleke M, Englert C. Task duration and task order do not matter: no effect on self-control performance. Psychol Res. 2019. online publication).

  77. 77.

    Molden DC, Hui CM, Scholer AA, Meier BP, Noreen EE, D’Agostino PR, et al. Motivational versus metabolic effects of carbohydrates on self-control. Psychol Sci. 2012;23:1137–44.

  78. 78.

    Graham JD, Bray SR. Self-control strength depletion reduces self-efficacy and impairs exercise performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2015;37:477–88.

  79. 79.

    Wolff W, Baumann L, Englert C. Self-reports from behind the scenes: questionable research practices and rates of replication in ego depletion research. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0199554.

  80. 80.

    Marcora SM. Do we really need a central governor to explain brain regulation of exercise performance? Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008;104:929.

  81. 81.

    Marcora S. Counterpoint: afferent feedback from fatigued locomotor muscles is not an important determinant of endurance exercise performance. J Appl Physiol. 2010;108:454–6.

  82. 82.

    Marcora SM, Bosio A, de Morree HM. Locomotor muscle fatigue increases cardiorespiratory responses and reduces performance during intense cycling exercise independently from metabolic stress. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008;294:R874–83.

  83. 83.

    Pageaux B. The psychobiological model of endurance performance: an effort-based decision-making theory to explain self-paced endurance performance. Sports Med. 2014;44:1319–20.

  84. 84.

    Müller T, Apps MA. Motivational fatigue: a neurocognitive framework for the impact of effortful exertion on subsequent motivation. Neuropsychologia. 2019;123:141–51.

  85. 85.

    Martin K, Meeusen R, Thompson KG, Keegan R, Rattray B. Mental fatigue impairs endurance performance: a physiological explanation. Sports Med. 2018;48:2041–51.

  86. 86.

    Inzlicht M, Schmeichel BJ. What is ego depletion? Toward a mechanistic revision of the resource model of self-control. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2012;7:450–63.

  87. 87.

    Inzlicht M, Schmeichel BJ, Macrae CN. Why self-control seems (but may not be) limited. Trends Cognit Sci. 2014;18:127–33.

  88. 88.

    Davis JM, Zhao Z, Stock HS, Mehl KA, Buggy J, Hand GA. Central nervous system effects of caffeine and adenosine on fatigue. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003;284:399–404.

  89. 89.

    Font L, Mingote S, Farrar AM, Pereira M, Worden L, Stopper C, et al. Intra-accumbens injections of the adenosine A 2A agonist CGS 21680 affect effort-related choice behavior in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2008;199:515–26.

  90. 90.

    Mingote S, Font L, Farrar AM, Vontell R, Worden LT, Stopper CM, et al. Nucleus accumbens adenosine A2A receptors regulate exertion of effort by acting on the ventral striatopallidal pathway. J Neurosci. 2008;28:9037–46.

  91. 91.

    Porkka-Heiskanen T. Adenosine in sleep and wakefulness. Ann Med. 1999;31:125–9.

  92. 92.

    Heatherton TF, Wagner DD. Cognitive neuroscience of self-regulation failure. Trends Cognit Sci. 2011;15:132–9.

  93. 93.

    Pires FO, Silva-Júnior FL, Brietzke C, Franco-Alvarenga PE, Pinheiro FA, de França NM, Teixeira S, Meireles Santos T. Mental fatigue alters cortical activation and psychological responses, impairing performance in a distance-based cycling trial. Front Physiol. 2018;9:227.

  94. 94.

    Bray SR, Oliver JP, Graham JD, Martin Ginis KA. Music, emotion, and self-control: does listening to uplifting music replenish self-control strength for exercise? J Appl Biobehav Res. 2013;18:156–73.

  95. 95.

    Marcora SM, Staiano W, Manning V. Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009;106:857–64.

  96. 96.

    Martin Ginis KA, Bray SR. Application of the limited strength model of self-regulation to understanding exercise effort, planning and adherence. Psychol Health. 2010;25:1147–60.

  97. 97.

    Hayes AF. Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: a regression-based approach. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Guilford Publications; 2017.

  98. 98.

    Montoya AK, Hayes AF. Two-condition within-participant statistical mediation analysis: A path-analytic framework. Psychol Methods. 2017;22:6–27.

  99. 99.

    Gregersen J, Hatzigeorgiadis A, Galanis E, Comoutos N, Papaioannou A. Countering the consequences of ego depletion: the effects of self-talk on selective attention. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2017;39:161–71.

  100. 100.

    Alberts HJ, Martijn C, Greb J, Merckelbach H, de Vries NK. Carrying on or giving in: the role of automatic processes in overcoming ego depletion. Br J Soc Psychol. 2007;46:383–99.

  101. 101.

    Alberts HJ, Martijn C, Nievelstein F, Jansen A, De Vries NK. Distracting the self: shifting attention prevents ego depletion. Self Identity. 2008;7:322–34.

  102. 102.

    Azevedo R, Silva-Cavalcante MD, Gualano B, Lima-Silva AE, Bertuzzi R. Effects of caffeine ingestion on endurance performance in mentally fatigued individuals. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116:2293–303.

  103. 103.

    Boat R, Taylor IM. Prior self-control exertion and perceptions of pain during a physically demanding task. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2017;33:1–6.

  104. 104.

    Coutinho D, Gonçalves B, Wong DP, Travassos B, Coutts AJ, Sampaio J. Exploring the effects of mental and muscular fatigue in soccer players’ performance. Hum Movement Sci. 2018;58:287–96.

  105. 105.

    Duncan MJ, Fowler N, George O, Joyce S, Hankey J. Mental fatigue negatively influences manual dexterity and anticipation timing but not repeated high-intensity exercise performance in trained adults. Res Sports Med. 2015;23:1–3.

  106. 106.

    Englert C, Bertrams A. The effect of ego depletion on sprint start reaction time. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2014;36:506–15.

  107. 107.

    Englert C, Wolff W. Ego depletion and persistent performance in a cycling task. Int J Sport Psychol. 2015;46:137–51.

  108. 108.

    Englert C, Bertrams A, Furley P, Oudejans RR. Is ego depletion associated with increased distractibility? Results from a basketball free throw task. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2015;18:26–31.

  109. 109.

    Englert C, Persaud B, Oudejans R, Bertrams A. The influence of ego depletion on sprint start performance in athletes without track and field experience. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1207.

  110. 110.

    Filipas L, Mottola F, Tagliabue G, La Torre A. The effect of mentally demanding cognitive tasks on rowing performance in young athletes. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2018;39:52–62.

  111. 111.

    Finkel EJ, Campbell WK, Brunell AB, Dalton AN, Scarbeck SJ, Chartrand TL. High-maintenance interaction: inefficient social coordination impairs self-regulation. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006;91:456–75.

  112. 112.

    Graham JD, Li YC, Bray SR, Cairney J. Effects of cognitive control exertion and motor coordination on task self-efficacy and muscular endurance performance in children. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12:379.

  113. 113.

    Graham JD, Sonne MW, Bray SR. It wears me out just imagining it! Mental imagery leads to muscle fatigue and diminished performance of isometric exercise. Biol Psychol. 2014;103:1–6.

  114. 114.

    MacMahon C, Schücker L, Hagemann N, Strauss B. Cognitive fatigue effects on physical performance during running. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2014;36:375–81.

  115. 115.

    Martijn C, Alberts HJ, Merckelbach H, Havermans R, Huijts A, De Vries NK. Overcoming ego depletion: the influence of exemplar priming on self-control performance. Eur J Soc Psychol. 2007;37:231–8.

  116. 116.

    Murtagh AM, Todd SA. Self-regulation: a challenge to the strength model. JASNH. 2004;3:19–51.

  117. 117.

    Pageaux B, Marcora SM, Rozand V, Lepers R. Mental fatigue induced by prolonged self-regulation does not exacerbate central fatigue during subsequent whole-body endurance exercise. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015;9:67.

  118. 118.

    Roussey G, Gruet M, Vercruyssen F, Louis J, Vallier JM, Bernard T. Interactions between perceived exertion and thermal perception in the heat in endurance athletes. J Therm Biol. 2018;76:68–76.

  119. 119.

    Shortz AE, Pickens A, Zheng Q, Mehta RK. The effect of cognitive fatigue on prefrontal cortex correlates of neuromuscular fatigue in older women. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2015;12:115.

  120. 120.

    Silva-Cavalcante MD, Couto PG, de Almeida Azevedo R, Silva RG, Coelho DB, Lima-Silva AE, et al. Mental fatigue does not alter performance or neuromuscular fatigue development during self-paced exercise in recreationally trained cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018;118:2477–87.

  121. 121.

    Stocker E, Englert C, Seiler R. Self-control strength and mindfulness in physical exercise performance: does a short mindfulness induction compensate for the detrimental ego depletion effect? J Appl Sport Psychol. 2019;31:324–39.

  122. 122.

    Vohs KD, Baumeister RF, Ciarocco NJ. Self-regulation and self-presentation: regulatory resource depletion impairs impression management and effortful self-presentation depletes regulatory resources. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005;88:632–57.

  123. 123.

    Vrijkotte S, Meeusen R, Vandervaeren C, Buyse L, Cutsem JV, Pattyn N, Roelands B. Mental fatigue and physical and cognitive performance during a 2-bout exercise test. Int J Sport Physiol. 2018;13:510–6.

  124. 124.

    Wagstaff CR. Emotion regulation and sport performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2014;36:401–12.

  125. 125.

    Graham, JD. The effects of self-efficacy, self-control strength and normative feedback on exercise performance [Doctoral Dissertation – Study 3]. McMaster University; 2015.

  126. 126.

    Langvee J, Bray, SR. Mental fatigue affects perceived exertion in whole-body cardiovascular exercise. 2017 (Unpublished manuscript).

  127. 127.

    Langvee J. Effects of self-control exertion on mental fatigue and perceived exertion during whole-body exercise [Master’s Thesis]. McMaster University; 2017.

  128. 128.

    MacMahon C, Hawkins Z, Schücker, L. Does the Stroop affect your beep? The effect of a cognitive task on the performance of a physical task in athletically active individuals. 2018 (Unpublished manuscript).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Denver M. Y. Brown.

Ethics declarations


Denver Brown and Sheereen Harris were supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarships during the preparation of this manuscript.

Ethical standards

Denver Brown, Jeffrey Graham, Kira Innes, Sheereen Harris, Ashley Flemington and Steven Bray declare that this systematic review and meta-analysis complies with all ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

Denver Brown, Jeffrey Graham, Kira Innes, Sheereen Harris, Ashley Flemington and Steven Bray have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this systematic review and meta-analysis.

Electronic supplementary material

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Brown, D.M.Y., Graham, J.D., Innes, K.I. et al. Effects of Prior Cognitive Exertion on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med 50, 497–529 (2020).

Download citation