When it comes to exercise, there’s a lot more at play than simply lacing up our running shoes and going out for a jog. There are a number of factors we need to consider to ensure that we actually follow through with our exercise plan and that our experience is positive.
We may not always consciously think about these factors, but often have them pre-built into our routines. Regardless of the particular form of exercise that we choose, we are probably concerned about:
- Developing healthy routines
- Making our workout as pleasant as possible
- Improving stamina
- Staying hydrated
- Preventing strains and sprains
- Maintaining energy and endurance
- Preventing/minimizing muscle fatigue
- Overcoming post-workout soreness
- Avoiding risk of injury
What we may not have considered before now is that aromatherapy can help address any and all of the above challenges. Because many oils have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties they are a great addition to your exercise routine and help you stay in great form. For instance, merely introducing a pleasant-smelling essential oil into your workout routine can evoke a desire to engage in that routine more consistently. Let’s consider some other ways that aromatherapy can complement your of plan and become a part of preventative medicine for any sport enthusiast young or old, blue ribbon winner or beginner.
How does Aromatherapy Play into Fitness?
Aromatherapy, as a complementary alternative medicine, neither takes the place of exercise itself nor serves as a substitute for heeding other important factors associated with exercise like eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and not overdoing it when we exercise. Any one of those factors can significantly impact how we feel during and after a workout. Aromatherapy won’t replace any of these essentials, but it can augment them beautifully.
Consider the following applications:
In 2013, a small study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Twelve healthy male students drank one 500 ml bottle of mineral water mixed with 0.05 ml peppermint essential oil for ten days. Various readings were taken before and after the 10-day period.
Researchers found that peppermint oil proved effective on exercise performance, gas analysis, spirometry parameters, blood pressure, and respiratory rate of all twelve students. In other studies, peppermint essential oil used as aromatherapy has been shown to raise the pain threshold, lower perceived physical workload, effort and anxiety.
Eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress oils
Following a hard workout, mix these essential oils with a neutral carrier oil like coconut or grape seed oil and work the mixture into your sore muscles for relief.
Together, these two essential oils help reduce inflammation and support joints. Mix with a carrier oil and rub onto sore joints or to knead out the inflammation from a cramp.
After a hard workout, you want to allow your body the rest and relaxation it needs to recover and replenish itself. Lavender oil applied aromatically, in bathwater, or topically as a lotion can help you achieve the relaxation you need.
Oregano or melaleuca oil
A downside of working out in a public gym is the likelihood of picking up a fungus in the locker room like athlete’s foot. Oregano or melaleuca oil with their powerful antifungal properties can help prevent and remedy such an outbreak.
In preparation for a workout, mix eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your neck, throat and temples. This will improve circulation and help open up your airways. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, eucalyptus oil can provide relief following a workout as well.
This essential oil may be the most powerful anti-microbial oil of them all. This oil assists in the breakdown of fat, stimulates lymph drainage, quenches the thirst, and protects the immune system.
How to Add Essential Oils to Your Workout
Typically, essential oils are inhaled, applied topically to the skin, or ingested, although this is not as common in the US and should only be done under the supervision of a professional.
Inhale essential oils using a diffuser, by placing oil directly on a cotton ball or tissue, via steam, or through a mist sprayed into the air.
When applying essential oils topically, most oils must be diluted with a carrier oil or water, usually at a concentration ratio of no more than 3-5%. And for a whole body application (bath or massage), dilute the oil to a 1% solution.
Can you exercise without essential oils? Certainly! But I’ve given you seven good reasons to complement your exercise routine with essential oils. These oils can provide relief from debilitating pain, boost your performance, increase circulation, and can make your workout more pleasurable.
Most of us wouldn’t go out for a run without the proper equipment. Perhaps the essential oils hold a place in the category of “proper equipment!” Why not test them out and see for yourself.
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Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.