Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Fitness

Understanding the Relationship Between Caffeine and Fitness

Athletes, like boxers, often drink beverages or take supplements that contain caffeine to gain a competitive edge. While there are some benefits in this area, taking caffeine to improve performance can be a double-edged sword. The relationship between caffeine is complicated and often difficult to understand. This article looks at caffeine as part of an athlete’s diet to help you determine whether you want to use it or if it is better to avoid it altogether.

When Caffeine Enters the Body

Because caffeine is absorbed quickly from the stomach, peak blood levels of the chemical can occur in about 45 – 60 minutes. Once it is circulating, caffeine can cause several responses in the body. Well known as a stimulant for the brain, there are also other physiological changes. Increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stomach acid are noted. These can last up to 12 hours. However, with regular use, our body develops a tolerance to much of these effects. So, the benefits of caffeine as they relate to performance decrease over time and require higher doses to achieve the same effect.

Caffeine as a Performance Booster

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. It has many benefits. However, it can also have drawbacks when used inappropriately. About 80 percent of Americans drink caffeine at least occasionally. The average daily intake of the chemical is around 200 mg each day, or sometimes a lower level of caffeine for pregnant people or those with a particular health condition is advised. Most of us are familiar with the benefits of heightened alertness and improved performance. The story doesn’t end there, however. Many people report feeling jittery and nervous after taking caffeine. This seems to be more pronounced in individuals who eat a clean diet and abstain from other types of drugs and alcohol. In this respect, caffeine can actually hinder performance, and so caffeine and fitness work together positively for your body.

Does Caffeine Cause Dehydration?

Not exactly. The US military has studied caffeine and its relationship to hydration and found that there was no significant impact when consumed in moderate amounts. It is thought, however, that because caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, it may make users less likely to desire water throughout the remainder of the day. Coffee, in particular, is known to have to stimulate more frequent bowel movements, which may contribute to dehydration.

Potential Adverse Effects of Caffeine

When making the decision of whether to take caffeine and any other drug — it is important to consider the potential side effects.

Because caffeine does increase the production of stomach acid, it can worsen symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.

Insomnia, poor sleep patterns and increased anxiety are all well-observed side effects of caffeine that can result in an overall lack of energy and fatigue.

Studies suggest that some people are more prone to caffeine-induced stress. A survey of over 2,000 heart attack cases was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. It showed that participants who were slower to metabolize the caffeine — a genetic predisposition — were more likely to suffer heart attacks.

As you can see, the relationship between caffeine and fitness is complicated. If you choose to use caffeine, it is best to understand the effect the chemical has on your body. It is established that caffeine does cause dependence over time. It has both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping. So, if you do decide to quit caffeine, it is recommended to do so over the course of a week or more to avoid the unpleasant detox symptoms.

If you have questions about how caffeine could be affecting your body, talk to our personal trainers and instructors and they can help point you in the right direction!

The Importance of Heart Rate Monitors

Dr. H. James Harrington said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t improve it.  if you can’t control it, you can’t improve it”.

Most people know what a heart rate monitor does, but they don’t know the importance of heart rate monitors. A heart rate monitor is a great tool that does exactly what its’ name implies, it measures your heart rate, or how many times a minute your heart beats.  It is important for your safety and success as it lets you know how hard you are working, which ensures the safety of your fitness workout.  Whether you are a beginner who’s just starting to work out, or a professional athlete looking to hit specific fitness goals, a heart monitor allows you to see how hard you are working at the gym.
Think of your heart as a muscle and the harder you work it, the stronger it gets and aerobic exercise is the best way to work it.  The more you exercise your heart, the more you lower your resting heart rate (RHR).  A stronger heart pumps more blood per beat, so the same work is performed with less beats. A healthy heart will help prevent cardio disease/heart attacks. 

For the maximum benefit from your cardio workout it is recommended you work out at 50% – 85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  To calculate your MHR, deduct your age from 220.  Keep in mind, that  your MHR can be off up to 10% using this method, as heart rate levels vary depending on your fitness level, nutrition, medications, genetics, and environment.  After you have calculated your MHR with the above method, check your heart rate monitor to determine if you need to lower or increase your intensity level.
We cannot underemphasize the importance of heart rate monitors. We recommend a heart rate monitor for everybody that works out and encourage you to inquire at the front desk about our MyZone heart monitors (we have made them very affordable for our members). In addition to measuring your heart rate, MyZone measures calories burned and your effort level, which allows you to set goals and evaluate your progress while enjoying a safe workout.
Learn more about our MyZone program.

Exercise Tips for Seniors

There is always an excuse to be sedentary. However, for the estimated 46 million elderly people in the US who are aged 65 years and above, physical activity is very important for healthy aging and to increase mobility & functioning. The benefits of exercise or physical movement are enormous, including improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance. It also helps increases cognitive function, reduces obesity, lowers risk of diseases and medical conditions including cancers, coronary problems & hip fractures and promotes better mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. Some exercise tips for seniors include finding a partner who you can go on walks with, hiring a personal trainer who can create a personalized plan for you, and making sure you set aside time every day for physical activity.

Elderly people can choose different types of exercise that are suitable to their physical condition. Seniors vary in their abilities to perform physical functions whether due to a chronic illness or the effects of aging. Going to the gym, performing floor exercises, vigorous walking or aerobics are possible options for seniors. What is important is to engage in physical activity, however small. 

Explore our workout options and contact us for more exercise tips for seniors and to see what exercises our trainers recommend for you.