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Caffeine and Exercise

June 26, 2014 Jim Couch

With summer in full swing, many people are more active than they were in the winter months - with bike rides, runs, or other activities outside. Did you know that coffee can help you get more out of your workouts? Here are 5 ways it can help:

Improved Circulation

Recent research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Participants in the study drank either caffeinated or decaf coffee, and then scientists gauged finger blood flow, to see how well their smaller blood vessels were working. Those who drank the caffeine had a 30% increase in blood flow over a 75 minute period, compared to those who had decaf. Better circulation can mean a better workout - muscles need oxygen!

Less Pain

Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the equivalent in caffeine of 2-3 cups of coffee before 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. Caffeine may then help you push a little bit harder during workouts, resulting in better muscle strength and endurance.

Better Memory

A study published from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed.  In this study, two groups (those who drank caffeine and those who did not) were asked to remember images over a 24 hour span, and the caffeinated group scored better. This can help during workouts where remembering exercises or routines is necessary.

Muscle Preservation

In a study with animals, scientists found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. These protective effects were seen in the diaphragm, the muscle used for breathing, and in skeletal muscles.  These results indicate that caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries!

More Muscle Fuel

A little caffeine post-exercise may be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day. Compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, a caffeine/carb combo resulted in a 66% increase in muscle glycogen four hours after exercise. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate that gets stored in muscle, and serves as a vital “piggy bank” during exercise. Greater reserves means you’re able to exercise harder and longer.

While caffeine appears to offer several exercise benefits, keep in mind it’s important to drink plenty of water as well!

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