Cognitive (executive) load does not affect self-paced cycling exercise performance.
Objectives: to test the hypothesis that cognitive load (low vs. high load) during 20’ self-paced cycling exercise affect physical performance.
Design: A pre-registered (https://osf.io/qept5/), randomized, within-subject design experiment.
Methods: 28 trained and experienced male cyclists completed a 20’ time-trial cycling self-paced exercise in two separate session, corresponding to two working memory load conditions: 1-back or 2-back. We measured, power output, heart rate, RPE and mental fatigue.
Results: Bayes analyses revealed extreme evidence for the 2-back task being more difficult than the 1-back task (BF10 = 4490). However, the observed data only showed anecdotal evidence for the alternative hypothesis for the power output (BF10= 1.52), but showed moderate evidence for the null hypothesis for the heart rate (BF10 = 0.172), anecdotal evidence for RPE (BF10 = 0.72) and anecdotal evidence for mental fatigue (BF10 = 0.588).
Conclusions: Our data challenge the idea that self-paced exercise is regulated by top-down processing given that exercise was not impaired in the high working memory load condition task with respect to the low working memory load condition.