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The effects of running ultra-distance on cardiovascular and cognitive function

Ultra-distance running is becoming increasingly popular, and an area of interest are the effects of running such distances on cognitive and cardiovascular function. Maintaining physiological and psychological function during races is important for both race strategy and race management. Ultra-running often requires athletes to run over challenging terrain and make important decisions about route selection, which is critical for success and safety.

A study observed a cohort of ultra distance runners and observed their cognitive and cardiovascular function before and after competing. Cognition was assessed using simple reaction time, choice reaction time, discrimination reaction time, and recognition memory. Cardiovascular function was subdivided into categories such as resting heart rate, cardiac output, mean arterial pressure, total systemic resistance, systolic blood pressure, total systemic resistance and rate pressure product.

The study revealed significant reductions in cardiovascular function and cognitive performance after an ultra-marathon event compared to pre-testing. The study also revealed that systemic vascular resistance is inversely associated with cognitive performance prior to and upon completing an ultra-distance event.

Perrotta, A.S. et al. (2022). Effect of an ultra-endurance event on cardiovascular function and cognitive performance in marathon runners. Frontiers Physiology. 838704.

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