What could be the next big secret to walking farther and longer on the treadmill? Would you believe us if we said dark chocolate?
A recent pilot study in Italy concentrated on 20 people ages 60-78 who suffer from peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs, stomach, arms and head. The reduced blood flow as a result of this disease can cause pain, cramping or fatigue in the legs or hips while walking.
The patients who participated in the study walked on average 11% farther and 15% longer, two hours after eating 40 grams of dark chocolate than they did before eating the standard size American candy bar.
The dark chocolate used in the study had a cocoa content of more than 85%, making it rich in polyphenols which researchers believe improve blood flow to the legs by affecting biochemicals that prompt arteries to widen.
Dr. Mark Creager of the American Heart Association cautions that as interesting as these findings are due to other health concerns related to consuming too much chocolate including: diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol he does “not recommend that people eat chocolate bars to improve their walking distance.” To Dr. Creager’s comment we would also add, that it takes a lot longer than 17 seconds on a treadmill to burn off a candy bar.
In short, although dark chocolate might add a few seconds to your workout, it doesn’t add enough to rationalize eating a candy bar before the gym.