Research: Drink coffee before exercising
Research: Drink coffee before exercising


It’s hardly surprising that a stimulant like caffeine can affect athletic performance. Runners, soldiers and watch-keepers have been using it for centuries.

But researchers keep stirring things up with new findings about caffeine precisely because it seems to influence nerve and muscle and blood cells, among other things, in a variety of ways.

One of the more notable findings is that taking in the equivalent of a cup of coffee before exercise helps limit muscle pain while working out.

Scientists at the University of Georgia reported as far back as 2003 that caffeine reduces muscle pain during exercise. Their study, involving muscle pain during cycling, found that riders reported substantially less pain after taking a caffeine pill rather than a placebo tablet.

Other researchers have detected a surge of endorphins — those feel-good hormones released during exercise — in people who take caffeine before heavy exercise, like a race.

Robert Moti, a former competitive cyclist and now physical performance and health professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign, reports that caffeine indeed works on a nerve signal processing system in the brain and spinal cord linked to pain.

Moti started out studying possible links between caffeine intake, spinal reflexes and physical activity, but his most recent work looks at the effect of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise.