Pycnogenol® is a refined Pine-Bark extract, sourced from the French Maritime region.
Research into the effects of Pycnogenol on physical fitness
A recent issue of The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness featured results of new research into the efficiency of Pycnogenol® on improving physical fitness in both normal subjects and recreational athletes. It evaluated improvement in training, exercise, recovery and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between antioxidants and pro-oxidants which can diminish the body's ability to repair muscle damage.
Participants across the entire study were divided into two groups - one group supplemented their diet with pine bark extract while the other group did not.
Up to a 25% improvement recorded
In the first part of the study an Army Physical Fitness Test was used to assess improvement in physical fitness of normal subjects over an 8 week period. The results showed a significant improvement in both males and females in the 2 mile running time within both groups, but those taking pine bark extract performed statistically better than the control group. The same trend was seen regarding the number of push-ups and sit-ups achieved, with the Pycnogenol group seeing a 25% improvement in the push-up test and a 15% improvement in the sit-up test. Oxidative stress declined in all subjects, again the results were significantly better in the Pycnogenol group.
Significant improvements demonstrated over a control group
In the second part of the study a 100 minute triathlon was used to assess improvement in the performance of recreational athletes. The training plan was administered over a period of 4 weeks. The swimming, biking and running scores in both groups improved however the Pycnogenol group displayed more benefits in comparison to the control group.
- Total event completion time for the Pycnogenol group was 89.44 minutes compared to 96.05 minutes for the controls.
- An improvement of 4.6 minutes in the average performing time was seen in the control group compared to an improvement of 10.8 minutes in the Pycnogenol group
- There was a significant decrease in cramps and running and post-running pain seen in the Pycnogenol group compared to no significant differences in the control group
Performance improvements shown with correct support
The study concluded that Pycnogenol® , along with correct hydration, good training and nutritional attention may improve training and performances both in normal subjects and in semi-professional athletes performing at high levels in difficult, high-stress sports such as triathlons.
A full and detailed copy of the study can be viewed here in PDF form.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.