Sometimes, simple things can have a big impact on our training. For example, did you know that you might be able to boost your next workout by chewing a piece of peppermint gum before you hit the gym?
A recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint oil can improve users' exercise performance, respiratory function, blood pressure and heart rate. For 10 days, participants in the study consumed .05mL of peppermint oil in their water before a treadmill test. They were able to run a quarter mile further than they could without the oil, improving their intensity by 51 percent.
Some researchers say that you may not even need to consume peppermint to boost performance. Another study, by Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D. of the Sense of Smell Institute, showed that athletes who smelled peppermint had increased energy and decreased exhaustion.
For his test, Raudenbush had forty athletes go through a series of physical tests. When they performed the tests after smelling peppermint, they all had better results. Improvements were made in cardiovascular and strength tasks like running, handgrip strength and Push-Ups. However, the mint had no effect on skill-related abilities like free-throw shooting.
Test one of these peppermint options before your next workout and comment below with your results.
Many types of mints and chewing gum are made from the essential oil of the peppermint plant, like the one used in the JISSN test. Candy and gum typically contain a much lower amount than the .05mL participants used, so expect less noticeable results from chewing a stick of gum or popping a breath mint. (Can it help you Battle Pre-Game Nerves as well?)
Go straight to the source by consuming the herb itself. Peppermint tea is a zero-calorie option for boosting performance. Peppermint tea also allows you to both consume and smell the mint. (Read: Smart Holiday Beverage Choices.)
For around $15, you can buy a 30-mL supply of peppermint oil. If you use the same .05mL dosage as the JSSI study, the bottle should last 600 days and cost about three cents a dose.
Peppermint Candles and Sprays
Packing your gym bag? Toss in a peppermint-scented candle while you run through your pre-workout checklist. You can inhale the scent while making sure you have that granola bar and water bottle. Then, before you hit the gym, spray your clothes with some peppermint spray for one last hit.