The Power of Mint Wonder why women chew gum at the gym? Turns out it’s so they can bench more than we do. Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia found that smelling peppermint boosts exercise performance levels. The scent alters your perception of how hard you’re working, says Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., the study’s director. “This makes workouts seem less strenuous, slower-paced, and easier to complete,” he says. Any minty smell should work, including the scent of mouthwash, gum, or juleps in the water bottle.
Fat Not a Foe? Fat might not be so bad after all. According to a University of Wisconsin study, a dietary fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help increase your levels of lean muscle mass. Over a 6-month period, researchers gave CLA supplements or a placebo to men and women starting an exercise program. Among those who gained weight, the CLA group gained almost twice as much lean muscle mass—45 percent compared with 26 percent. “CLA doesn’t get rid of fat, but it can prevent new fat from attaching to your cells, and it may make results from exercise longer-lasting,” says Michael Pariza, Ph.D. CLA is available as a supplement, but you probably already have some in your refrigerator. Beef and dairy products are both excellent sources of the stuff.
Gel Aspirin Say goodbye to bottled aspirin. Researchers at Rutgers University recently found that a new aspirin gel reduces pain almost immediately after being rubbed on joints or muscles. The gel activates when it comes into contact with water in the skin. “The difference is that this form of aspirin may not cause problems, such as stomach irritation, since it isn’t taken internally,” says Kathryn Uhrich, Ph.D., study author. The gel—called PolyAspirin—will be on the market in about 2 years.