Caffeine and exercise

A Good Excuse to Enjoy a Coffee Before You Exercise…

It is no secret that many Australians love waking up to a cup of coffee. Over 75% of us drink at least one cup per day. (1) The caffeine in coffee increases feelings of alertness and helps us to feel more awake by blocking the effects of a neurotransmitter called adenosine.

But did you know the caffeine found in coffee can have some performance benefits when it comes to exercise?

During endurance exercise like running or bike riding, caffeine works to prevent the depletion of glycogen or carbohydrate stores in the muscle. This delays the onset of muscular fatigue, reduces perceived exertion and allows us to work for longer durations. (1,2)

Coffee is also a suitable and cheaper alternative to pre-workouts that contain caffeine. Having a cup of coffee can increase adrenaline and some research suggests it may stimulate the motor cortex in the brain to increase muscle activation. (1,2)

General recommendations include taking low-moderate doses of caffeine between 30-60 minutes before exercising. However, it is important to know your own limits; excessive caffeine can reduce sleep quality, cause gastrointestinal discomfort or increase feelings of anxiety. Each individual has a different tolerance to coffee depending on the individual make up of enzymes in their digestive system. (1,2)

Exercise Right. Boost your performance: How a cup of coffee can enhance your training. Exercise Right, 2019.
Hodgson AB, Randell RK, Jeukendrup AE. The metabolic and performance effects of caffeine compared to coffee during endurance exercise. PloS one. 2013 Apr 3;8(4):e59561.

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