EAT BERRIES FOR ENDURANCE
They keep your lungs healthy and strong.
Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.
In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.
Lung function, a marker for how well you can breathe during exercise, naturally declines after age 30. A new study
found that people (44 years old, on average) who eat more foods with anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, can exhale more air and with more force than people who eat less of the nutrient. In other words, their lungs were stronger and healthier.
Anthocyanins are full of antioxidants, which have an anti-inflammatory effect and may counteract lung damage caused by toxins like pollution, explains lead study author Vanessa Garcia Larsen, Ph.D., assistant professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Healthier lungs also benefit your workouts, says Matt Berenc, CSCS, director of education at Equinox. “Think of your lungs as balloons,” he says. If you have a weak exhale, you’re only half-deflating the balloon, which means you also get less air when you inhale. But having strong lungs mean you can breathe in and out completely. As a result, more oxygen can transfer to your muscles during exercise.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Aim to eat a cup of berries (like blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries) per day after you turn 30 to keep your lungs healthy, Garcia Larsen says. This will help you maintain your performance over time, especially during endurance and HIIT training when your muscles really benefit from that extra oxygen, Berenc adds.