The effect of acute New Zealand blackcurrant juice consumption on motivation to exercise

SYNOPSIS:Consumption of blackcurrant extract in healthy individuals prior to a cognitive challenge has been shown to improve cognitive performance and mood. Although the underlying causes are unknown, a change in neurotransmitter concentrations involved in motivation was detected. Since motivation is key to desire and adherence to exercise, researchers investigated whether consuming blackcurrant prior to exercise improved voluntary physical activity by increasing motivation.

40 healthy participants consumed either a NZ blackcurrant juice concentrate (3.9mg anthocyanins/kg bodyweight) or sugar-matched placebo. Participants then exercised on a treadmill at a semi-brisk walking pace (50% of estimated maximal heart rate) where information on time and distance walked was concealed. During the exercise, participant’s mood and perceived exertion were assessed. The exercise was stopped when participant’s mood scores became consistently negative or started to shown signs of fatigue.

The study showed:

  • Heart rate, blood lactate and oxidative stress were similar in both groups.
  • The blackcurrant group walked further in both mean time and distance
  • The blackcurrant group recorded a significantly higher number of ‘positive’ mood scores
  • A decrease in MAO-B activity in the blackcurrant group
  • Reduced plasma prolactin levels in the blackcurrant group compared to placebo

Conclusion: Consuming blackcurrant juice prior to exercise supports motivation and desire to exercise for longer. This may be through blackcurrant compounds modulating neurotransmitter levels (eg dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline) during exercise that influence mood and motivation.

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