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This investigation aimed to explore the effects of inert sugar-free drinks described as either 'performance enhancing' (placebo) or 'fatigue inducing' (nocebo) on peak minute power (PMP;W) during incremental arm crank ergometry (ACE). Twelve healthy, non-specifically trained individuals volunteered to take part. A single-blind randomised controlled trial with repeated measures was used to assess for differences in PMP;W, oxygen uptake, heart rate (HR), minute ventilation, respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and subjective reports of local ratings of perceived exertion (LRPE) and central ratings of perceived exertion (CRPE), between three separate, but identical ACE tests. Participants were required to drink either 500 ml of a 'sports performance' drink (placebo), a 'fatigue-inducing' drink (nocebo) or water prior to exercise. The placebo caused a significant increase in PMP;W, and a significant decrease in LRPE compared to the nocebo (p=0.01; p=0.001) and water trials (p=0.01). No significant differences in PMP;W between the nocebo and water were found. However, the nocebo drink did cause a significant increase in LRPE (p=0.01). These results suggest that the time has come to broaden our understanding of the placebo and nocebo effects and their potential to impact sports performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-7
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2014


  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nocebo Effect
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Perception
  • Physical Exertion
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


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