Starbucks and Exercise: Can Coffee Improve your Running?

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starbucks and exercise

Starbucks and Exercise?  I’ve observed personally that loading up on some coffee or other source of caffeine seems to help the intensity of my work-outs. However are there any studies that show for example that coffee could actually improve your running? A study this week seems to confirm this concept as it found that caffeine consumption enhanced resistance to muscle fatigue. This got me thinking, so I decided to dig further and see if others had made the same link. Another recent study found that rowers on caffeine performed better (only 2% better). In another twist, one recent study found that low dose caffeine reduced pain with weight lifting. This would seem to support the idea of working out harder, perhaps more for middle aged athletes like me where pain during a work-out is a common phenomenon. On the down side, another study examined what we might call the “red bull” effect, namely combining caffeine with loads of sugar. This study is interesting, as it found that adding caffeine into sugary drinks (like that mocha frappacino) actually reduced the sweetness, meaning that manufactures were then forced to place even more sugar in the drink to satisfy the American hunger for ever sweeter drinks and foods. The authors felt this could be responsible for some of the recent weight gain trends. If you’re a runner, is it better to have a few extra pounds to haul around or get a little boost in your performance? One issue is that gaining weight may be a bigger problem for your joints that just adding mechanical forces, as recent research has shown that the classic metabolic syndrome facing many Americans (overweight, high blood pressure, pre-diabetic) also chews up cartilage. We also know that loosing weight (maybe by avoiding the next Starbucks sweet coffee drink) can reduce pain in your knees. The upshot? A little caffeine before you hit the gym or take a run may help you work harder with less fatigue, but to keep the pounds at bay stay away from regular doses of red bull or those sweet coffee drinks!

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Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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