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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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Some Coffee with Your Push-Ups?

Scientists have found that high doses of caffeine directly increase muscle power and endurance during physical activities.

Nutrition & Movement

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of people at my gym walking around holding cups from Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. Oh, good idea, I think.I wouldn't have to waste my time at home drinking coffee; I could just get up and grab a cup on the way to the gym and drink it while I work out.

But I'm not enough of a morning person to do that. I need to sit and slowly sip while my eyes and brain adjust to the day.

Turns out there may be another reason for this sudden rash of coffee drinkers. Scientists in the UK have found that high doses of caffeine directly increase muscle power and endurance during physical activities.

As reported at, caffeine can help humans enhance their energy from everyday activity to running a marathon.

While scientists have already known that the stimulation of the nervous system makes caffeine enhance athletic performance, this is another more advanced finding. Apparently, the caffeine in blood plasma acts on the receptors of skeletal muscles, allowing the body to produce more force.

Now, I can't exactly picture mice doing formal exercises–but these were the subjects being tested (Remember the cartoon "Mighty Mouse?" Maybe he was downing coffee with his cheese). The scientists are hoping that humans would be likely to show the same effects.

I have other ways of enhancing my performance at the gym:

I psych myself with some positive self-talk, I play upbeat music on my iPod, I look around at all the strong and fit bodies and tell myself that maybe, just maybe, I can look that way, too.

But I can't say I'm not tempted to go a wee bit out of myway the next time I go to the gym and take a detour for Starbucks. Or suggest that my gym, alongside their juice bar, put in a coffee bar.

And since it's not listed (yet?) as a banned substance by the World Anti-doping Agency, I wonder if gyms are going to start to set up coffee bars alongside their juice bars.

Some other surprising benefits and uses for coffee:

As an odor eater in a stinky fridge: A small bowl of unused coffee grounds will suck up smelly moisture. It works, too, anywhere there is a bad odor; try tying grounds in a cheesecloth pouch alongside your garbage to keep odors at bay.

Keep Alzheimer's away: Several new studies suggest that caffeine could protect your brain. But there's a catch: you need to drink 500 mg (or the equivalent of about 5 cups a day)

Reduce diabetes risk: When scientists analyzed data over many years, they found that diabetes risk can be reduced by drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day. And the more you drink, the more your risk is decreased.

Reduce Parkinson's Risk: People who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop this disease, found at least six studies.

Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer, Liver Cirrhosis Risk, Gallstones: Compared to not drinking coffee, at least 2 cups a day can result in a lower incidence of these health conditions.

This matters> Coffee is not for everyone. You might be a person who doesn't like it or can't tolerate the way it makes you feel. And of course, if you're pregnant or are a heart patient, you'd probably be wise to avoid it.

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