In a small study of competitive male soccer players, researchers found that short mindfulness exercises during halftime (learning to be calm and present in the here and now) can help players remain mentally sharp and experience less fatigue during games since total distance covered and high speeds diminish in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
In the study of 17 players, half completed the mindfulness-based intervention 45 minutes into a game. These participants went through mindful breathing, body scan and experiential acceptance. The control group listened to a travel-related audio clip. Cognitive function (testing inhibition and working memory), salivary cortisol levels, blood lactate levels, and mental fatigue were measured at baseline before the game and after the intervention (halftime).
Players who were given the mindfulness exercises exhibited better reaction times and accuracy in the second half of the game, as well as lower fatigue and cortisol levels.
Ultimately, scientists found adopting specific recovery strategies at half time helps players service their cognitive needs and restore physical strength to maintain or even boost their performance when they might otherwise wane in the second half.
It’s a useful tool for anyone needing to stay sharp during an endurance event (or just a dreadfully long day at the office).
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