The Effects of Physical and Mental Fatigue on Time Perception

Reza Goudini, Ali Zahiri, Shahab Alizaheh, Ben Drury, Saman Hadjizadeh Anvar, Abdolhamid Daneshjoo, David Behm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

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The perception of time holds a foundational significance regarding how we elucidate the chronological progression of events. While some studies have examined exercise effects on time perception during exercise periods, there are no studies investigating the effects of exercise fatigue on time perception after an exercise intervention. This study investigated the effects of physical and mental fatigue on time estimates over 30 s immediately post-exercise and 6 min post-test. Seventeen volunteers were subjected to three conditions: physical fatigue, mental fatigue, and control. All participants completed a familiarization session and were subjected to three 30 min experimental conditions (control, physical fatigue (cycling at 65% peak power output), and mental fatigue (Stroop task)) on separate days. Time perception, heart rate, and body temperature were recorded pre-test; at the start of the test; 5, 10, 20, 30 seconds into the interventions; post-test; and at the 6 min follow-up. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded four times during the intervention. Physical fatigue resulted in a significant (p = 0.001) underestimation of time compared to mental fatigue and control conditions at the post-test and follow-up, with no significant differences between mental fatigue and control conditions. Heart rate, body temperature, and RPE were significantly (all p = 0.001) higher with physical fatigue compared to mental fatigue and control conditions during the intervention and post-test. This study demonstrated that cycling-induced fatigue led to time underestimation compared to mental fatigue and control conditions. It is crucial to consider that physical fatigue has the potential to lengthen an individual’s perception of time estimates in sports or work environments.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2024


  • Stroop task
  • heart rate
  • rating of perceived exertion
  • temporal
  • time estimate


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