7 Bizarre Things That Science Says Make You a Better Athlete

#3. Chocolate Can Help You Exercise


If you're trying to figure out the best diet to maximize your sports performance, you wouldn't think that chocolate would play a significant part. Well, you'd be wrong, according to science, and science wouldn't lie to us.

You probably still shouldn't leave your kids with it, though.

Scientists at the University of California conducted a study and found that dark chocolate produced similar effects on the body to those produced by aerobic exercises like jogging and cycling. To be fair, the studies were done on mice, but we all know that they are the athletes of the animal world, judging by how much time they spend running in wheels.

Researchers gave small liquid doses of epicatechin, a chemical in chocolate, twice a day to a group of mice, and a separate control group drank equal amounts of water. Half of the animals in each group were then given a light exercise regimen for 15 days. At the end of the study, all of the mice were made to run on a treadmill until they dropped from exhaustion. We assume at this point that most scientific research is based on the principle of "fuck mice."

"Don't stop, or the wifey gets it."

The mice that received doses of epicatechin had a whopping 50 percent boost in performance compared to the other groups of mice. Even those in the water group that had been exercising regularly grew tired more quickly than the epicatechin mice with zero exercise.

The explanation for this is that the muscles of all of the animals that had been given epicatechin had grown new mitochondria -- structures in cells that produce cellular energy. Just as with the mice, in humans this would translate to more resistance to fatigue and greater muscle power. If only we could find someone willing to consume vast amounts of chocolate to see if it will give them superpowers.

"Day 38: Still no super strength."

#2. Pleasant Smells Improve Your Batting Average


Scientists have known for some time that certain smells can affect the mind and body in some miraculous ways, from dreams and emotions to your ability to concentrate. While a whiff of lavender releases feel-good hormones and makes us happier, the scent of roses is known to lower blood pressure, and a hint of eucalyptus improves alertness. But researchers were wondering whether pleasant aromas could be put to a much nobler purpose -- helping you hit things farther with blunt objects.

Bonds is totally olfactoring.

They studied six professional Major League Baseball players who alternated between wearing jasmine-scented and unscented wristbands. The players were made to sniff the scented wristbands once before swinging at 10 pitches thrown by a batter. The pitcher and batting coaches rated how each player swung at the ball, if he connected for a hit, how far the ball went, how fast the swing was, and whether the performance changed for better or worse.

The results showed that all the test subjects recorded improved performance in all abilities when they sniffed the wristbands. Presumably they also reported feeling much prettier.

"And my menstrual cramps are gone!"

Similar studies of the performance of bowlers found that the smell of jasmine significantly improved their bowling ability as well. These results suggest that jasmine could be useful in enhancing not only athletic ability, but also other activities requiring precise hand-eye coordination. So next time you notice your favorite sports team sucking balls, you should consider sending them a bouquet of flowers.

#1. Non-Alcoholic Beer Helps You Recover from Marathons


Running a marathon is hard, or at least that's what we've heard. The body wasn't exactly designed to run for 26 miles straight, because evolution figured that whatever was chasing you would probably have already eaten you by that point.

"Go ahead, run! The adrenaline just makes you more tender."

Because of the stress that marathon runners put their bodies through, runners tend to suffer from a weakened immune system after a run, putting them at risk of nasty upper respiratory tract infections. New research shows that they might be able to avoid this with a nice tall glass of non-alcoholic wheat beer.

The study, creatively referred to as "Be-MaGIC" (beer, marathons, genetics, inflammation, and the cardiovascular system), compared runners plied with non-alcoholic beer with some others who were given a beer-flavored placebo, although until now we didn't realize that there was a difference. The result was that the beer drinkers showed reduced inflammation, lower frequency of upper respiratory infections and colds, and overall better immune systems.

They were also four times more likely to be stuck driving their friends to Sheetz at 3 a.m.

So what causes this? The study concluded that it was thanks to the "particular combination of polyphenol, vitamins, and minerals" in the beer, with a special thanks to the polyphenol, a kind of antioxidant. The better news is that we've finally found a practical use for non-alcoholic beer.

For more ways science can make your superhuman, check out 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness and 5 Superpowers You Didn't Know Your Body Was Hiding From You.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Only Convincing Anti-Piracy PSA in History.

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