Everyone knows a cup of coffee can make you more alert and feel energised, but researchers from Coventry University in the UK think they've uncovered a solid, scientific reason why a little caffeine before your workout may be beneficial. The scientists conducted a small study, and observed that participants who enjoyed a caffeinated drink hung in on their workout much longer than participants who drank the same drink, only caffeine-free.Photo by Jennie Faber.
The Coventry University study was very small -- about 13 athletes -- and it only serves as a gateway to additional research. Even so, it does point to a conclusion that many of us have known for a while -- that a little caffeine helps us stick out tough situations a little longer, and stay alert when we would have otherwise started to tire.
The researchers point to the fact that since it was removed from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency, a study involving over 20,000 Olympic athletes shows that caffeine is their new drug of choice.
The mechanisms behind how caffeine motivates people to exercise longer and harder are still poorly understood, but researchers think that caffeine may reduce the buildup of adenosine in a person's muscles. Adenosine is the chemical responsible for making it more difficult for our muscles to exert force, and makes us feel fatigued when we keep pushing ourselves when we exercise. Whether the study results will pan out for lighter aerobic exercise remains to be seen, and researchers say they're not clear on how much caffeine is required to get the desired effect in an average person, but early results from this and other studies involving caffeine and athletes are all promising.
For the time being, it definitely can't hurt to have your morning cup of coffee before you hit the treadmill -- you never know, you might stay on a bit longer. Do you have your morning cup before you work out, or rely on a caffeinated drink to keep your energy up when you exercise? Share your workout tips in the comments below.
How Coffee Can Galvanize Your Workout [The New York Times]