Coffee For Better Performance in the (Happy) New Year

This year, we spent part of winter holiday skiing in the Berkshires. I love the quiet thrill of being on top of the mountain, anticipating the downward descent. I love a brisk sunny day---and I love a good cup of coffee.

Turns out the coffee in the ski lodge was not so good. It was black sludge. In contrast, the coffee at the hotel we stay in near Mass Moca was smooth and perfect. It came in a thermos, housed in a corrugated metal lunchbox. I was charmed, but the coffee, was and always has been excellent at Porches.

Despite the fact that one cup was amazingly good and the other breathtakingly bad, I drank them both. They served an important purpose. They helped improve my performance. Numerous studies have shown that caffeine enhances sports performance across a wide range of activities, such as running, tennis, and rowing. Effects can last up to an hour.

True, coffee is remarkably energizing, but the underlying reason that coffee enhances performance is that caffeine increases the power output of muscles by releasing calcium stored in muscles. The result: longer and faster performance, with an average improvement of 5%.

I have a friend in his 60’s (around my father’s age), who skis hard, fast, and intensely. He skis better than me by orders of magnitude. He is a coffee drinker, as am I. While that 5% may make a marginal difference for him competitively, for me, it just makes me happier as I leisurely come down the slopes watching my husband and daughter whiz by.

Northeastern winters are a distinct pleasure. Of course, we are accustomed to this reality and the idea that coffee and other hot drinks will get us through.

Happy New Year! Enjoy….Here’s to a happy, prosperous, healthy, productive, and awe-inspiring 2012!


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