The essence of peppermint, whether infused in oils or brewed in tea, has tremendous health benefits. It ranks as a premier choice for individuals seeking to boost athletic performance. What exactly are the effects of peppermint on performance and is it worth recommending to personal training clients?

Scientists have outlined the top benefits of peppermint for athletes:

~Relieves nausea and calms anxiety associated with competitive athletic events

~Improves respiratory function leading to greater mental alertness and overall concentration

~Provides relief from sore muscles and cramps

Inhale Exercise Enhancement

One clinical study sought to ascertain the effectiveness of inhaled peppermint essence on athletic performance; its results appeared in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. The research team evaluated individuals exercising in rooms with various fragrances piped into the ventilation systems, along with a control room.

Subjects working out in the room with peppermint-enhanced air reported decreased feelings of fatigue and frustration and demonstrated enhanced overall performance. Participants in this room (more than rooms with any other aroma) were able to perform more push-ups, run faster, and show stronger grip strength than in the non-odorized control room.

Peppermint for Performance

Another study whose data was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition went a step further and looked at the effects of peppermint oil consumption on athletic performance. Over the course of 10 days, subjects were instructed to consume a drink laced with 0.05 ml. of peppermint oil as part of their running regimen.

The individuals were evaluated both before and after consumption of the drink, to assess various aspects of cardiovascular performance. The results were remarkable. The peppermint oil-enhanced water led the athletes to exhibit improvements in exercise performance, respiratory function, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory gas exchange.

Likewise, both blood pressure and heart rate were reduced. In terms of exercise output, the subjects were able to increase their overall work performance by 50%, while demonstrating a 25% increase in the time it took to reach peak exhaustion when compared to a control group.

A Holiday “Cheat Treat”

As trainers, we are accustomed to cautioning our clients at this time of year against overindulging on holiday treats, most notably those containing processed sugar. However, if they are truly struggling with this notion and are seeking a few “cheat items”, it might be worth recommending the time-honored peppermint candy cane.

You could bring a bottle of peppermint essential oil to your holiday workouts and ask clients if they mind taking a whiff before exercising. Most health stores sell essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated so a little goes a long way. As always try it on yourself before offering it to others.


Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!