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Your Brain Makes You Tired, Not Your Muscles

Fatigue is in the mind, not the muscles, suggests a new study. But it can still have a serious impact on athletic performance. Traditionally, fatigue was viewed as the result of over-worked muscles ceasing to function properly. But evidence is mounting that our brains make us feel weary after exercise. The idea is that the brain steps in to prevent muscle damage. It appears that a ubiquitous body signalling molecule called interleukin-6 plays a key role in telling the brain when to slow us down. Blood levels of IL-6 are 60 to 100 times higher than normal following prolonged exercise, and injecting healthy people with IL-6 makes them feel tired. This is clearly an example of just how much impact the brain has on our overall health. Perhaps this helps to explain why meditation is so beneficial.

New Scientist July 29, 2004

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