The Benefits of Essential Oils in Exercise
Written in collaboration with DOSE.
Designer water bottles, wearable weights – even handheld percussion massage devices have made it into our gym bags, as the $4.2 trillion dollar wellness industry spawns countless fitness accessories we never knew we needed.
Now, mood-enhancing sprays harnessing the power of essential oils are competing for space in our sweat bags, as a new understanding of scent’s crucial role in our physical and emotional wellbeing, is giving rise to a £15bn essential oil market.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
The benefits of using essential oils like lavender for sleep are well documented. In fact, according to Oxford Professor Charles Spence, author of Sensehacking, there is even evidence of lavender essential oil working better than sleeping pills in enhancing the right kinds of sleep). We’re also familiar with essential oil infused yoga mat cleaning sprays and ‘woo woo’ aura mists designed to re-balance our chakras. Now fitness fanatics are creating similar rituals around their workouts to pump up their energy levels and boost performance.
At DOSE, we are passionate about helping people to tap into their happy hormones in the healthiest way possible. We launched HIIT ME UP – a mood boosting mist with energising essential oils orange, lemon, lime, bergamot and eucalyptus, as a ‘mood hack’ to bring people one step closer to their workouts, by getting them in the right head space to train.
HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS AFFECT OUR MOOD
When we inhale essential oils, they can change how we feel because they stimulate the neurons in our olfactory bulb, connected to the limbic system – responsible for our moods. So powerful are essential oils, that they can affect the release, uptake, and availability of neurotransmitters or ‘happy hormones’ inspiring mood changes. One minute you might feel like cancelling a class but a whiff of essential oils might be the reason that you change your mind.
CAN ESSENTIAL OILS ENHANCE PERFORMANCE?
As he highlights in the exercise chapter of his book Sensehacking, Professor Charles Spence says that there is evidence showing that sporting performance (e.g. running) can be improved by smelling peppermint, while other scents that we associate with sweetness can help to reduce the pain we might feel.
He refers to a recent study, where runners who sniffed peppermint essential oil before a race improved their spirometer test (that measures lunge capacity) by 10 percent. Those using orange essential oil realised an even greater increase in lung status improving by 30 percent. Both study groups showed significant improvement in athletic performance with decreased running times.
So you’re convinced that essential oils are your latest workout accessory, but how to go about choosing the best ones? Here are some of our favourite essential oils, known for their mood boosting effects… that will hopefully leave you with a smile and a new Peloton PB.
5 ENERGISING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR YOUR WORKOUT
1. Orange – great for creating positive and happy vibes – orange essential oil may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety such as reducing heart rate. Have a sniff before your next HIIT class and when combined with the music and sweat you’ll be flying on endorphins.
2. Lemongrass – an invigorating essential oil with a citrusy zing that brings clarity to your mind and wakes the senses. Have a quick sniff of this energising pick-me-up in your 6am spin class to replace (or compliment) that morning coffee shot.
3. Peppermint - an enlivening scent that will boost your mood and help regulate your breathing during exercise. Inhale prior to your morning run or cycle to work for extra energy.
4. Eucalpytus – a natural decongestant, this fresh, invigorating remedy will boost energy levels and focus. Great for banishing brain fog, so you can think with a clear head. A great option for when you’re not feeling 100%. Save for your rest day when you need some oomph to get you out of a slump.
5. Bergamot - Both uplifting and calming, bergamot is one of the best all-round essential oils for balancing out the central nervous system. We like it best when blended with orange, lemon, lime and eucalyptus in DOSE's HIIT ME UP.
Whether you are looking to energise your next HIIT workout, or clear your mind of brain fog, essential oils might just be the fix you need to tap into these benefits. With so many to choose from, finding the right oil for you may seem like a daunting choice. But DOSE have curated a user-friendly selection of essential oils to ground you, invigorate your senses, boost your mood, and more. So what are you waiting for? Make some room in your gym bag for this new workout accessory.