Caffeine is one of the most used stimulants in the United States today. Caffeine is naturally occurring and found in various seeds, leaves, and fruits of some plants. Humans commonly use caffeine because it acts as a central nervous system stimulant, temporarily reducing drowsiness and restores alertness. In North America alone, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily.1
While ordinary people benefit from caffeine, athletes utilize the stimulant to reap its benefits as well. A study on energy drinks was previously covered on Breaking Muscle, showing their effectiveness due to their large caffeine content. A new study that is going to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on June 30, 2012 has shown that caffeine boosts power in older muscles.
The recent study suggested caffeine could aid elderly people to maintain their strength, which would reduce the incidence of falls and injuries. Sports scientists at Coventry University researched whether or not these age-related changes in muscle would change the effect of caffeine. They determined that caffeine continues to enhance muscle performance in two different voluntary muscles in mice. The first was the diaphragm, which is used for breathing, and the second was a leg muscle known as the extensor digitorus longus (EDL), which is used for movement. The lead author of the study, Jason Tallis, said, “Despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits.”2
What this means is that for athletes who are in their prime, or at the end of their careers, caffeine may be an answer to help their aging muscle produce more force. Aging is inevitable, and as we age our muscles naturally change and lose strength. Tallis said, “With the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle to preserve health and functional capacity, the performance-enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population.”3
This is yet another study proving the efficacy of caffeine. Many studies have been done to prove its beneficial effects on performance, primarily energy and alertness. This recent study reveals another aspect of performance caffeine supplementation can positively benefit, which is the muscles. Muscles are a crucial tool for everyday tasks, and for an athlete to be at the top of his/her game, the muscles should be performing as optimally as possible. Unfortunately, muscles weaken with age, but hopefully, things like caffeine can help athletes to alleviate some of the problems, and possibly extend their careers.4
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