Top essential oils for fitness
If you're on a mission to improve your fitness you've probably got your runners, tunes and cool water bottle sorted. But here's something you may not have considered as part of your 'fit kit': essential oils.
There are some wonderful essential oils that can help you increase energy, manage stress, treat little workout injuries, even keep your gear in top shape. Jump into these!
Motivation can escape even the most driven of us from time to time - but as always, nature has a remedy for that. All citrus oils - from orange or grapefruit, to lemon, lime or bergamot - work on your brain chemistry to boost mood and give you an instant 'lift'. They've been said to boost physical energy levels as well as awaken the brain.
A great time to use citrus oils is in the morning - say before that 7am class you're always saying you'll get to!. Keep a bottle beside the bed to sniff when your alarm goes off, or spritz a handy room mist like Bosisto's Energy Aroma Mist .It contains lemon plus peppermint (mentioned below) and has the added boost of rosemary oil, renowned for sharpening the senses.
Did you know one drop of peppermint oil is equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea? It's a powerful essential oil that has so many benefits - but for fit freaks, it's the respiratory and recovery benefits you'll love. Peppermint Oil, when diffused, helps ease congestion - great for when you're off to a cardio workout and feeling a bit stuffed up. Plus, we've always known a drop of peppermint oil is great for digestion but how about helping you go faster for longer?
In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, subjects used .05mL of peppermint oil in a drink, consumed each day for ten consecutive days. At the end the test subjects found their workout ability boosted 51% and they were 25% less exhausted at the end of it. Researchers speculated it was from increased blood oxygen levels due to the dilating effect on the airways.
Rest is so important for athletic performance - don't neglect this area of your training! Widely used for its calming and relaxing properties, lavender also helps reduce anxiety - the perfect combination if you have a big race event the next day (or, at the other end of the spectrum, if you're new to gym and stressed about how you'll fit in). Get a dose of zen with pure Lavender Oil in a diffuser, or Bosisto's Sleep Aroma Mist spritzed on your pillow.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, the odd ingrown toenail and fungal infection are the bane of most active people's lives. Runners in particular need to take good care of their feet, as untreated wounds, blisters and nail issues can quickly worsen under continued pressure.
A foot soak with a capful of Tea Tree Oil after your workout can be a wonderful way to take advantage of its antiseptic properties - try a Tea Tree Solution for this use, as it's easily dispersed in water. Or dab pure oil neat on any minor injuries to treat and prevent infection.
Tea Tree's antifungal talents are well documented - and since 'Athlete's foot' is very real and very infectious, it's a great idea to keep a can of Tea Tree Spray in your gym bag and give your feet a spray after stepping on communal change room floors. It's also great for spraying inside your runners and gym bag to freshen and kill germs.
The king of easing muscle aches and pains, Eucalyptus oil is your saviour for both pre and post-workout. The oil is a 'rubifacient' - a substance that causes dilation of the blood vessels in contact with the skin. Rubbed into the skin, it warms and loosens muscles to help prevent injury before exercise, and boosts circulation to promote healing in the torn muscle fibres afterwards.
It's recommended to mix with a carrier oil like almond, coconut or olive oil before applying to skin. Alternatively, try a Eucalyptus based rub.
The other time you'll be glad you have a bottle of Eucalyptus oil handy is when you're washing those stinky sports clothes. Nature's most potent disinfectant and deodoriser, eucalyptus oil is the nemesis of smelly laundy - in particular sweat, dirt and grime. Pop two capfuls in with your final rinse for fresh, germ-free socks and gear. And give your boxing gloves and yoga mat a Spray while you're at it, too.
For more tips on how to care for your sports gear, click here.