Nicotine patches – performance boost?

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  • Nicotine patches – performance boost?
  • AndrewBF

    Exp Physiol. 2006 Jul;91(4):705-13. Epub 2006 Apr 20.
    Effect of transdermal nicotine administration on exercise endurance in men.

    Mündel T, Jones DA.

    Human Performance Laboratory, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


    Nicotine is widely reported to increase alertness, improve co-ordination and enhance cognitive performance; however, to our knowledge there have been no attempts to replicate these findings in relation to exercise endurance. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects nicotine might have on cycling endurance, perception of exertion and a range of physiological variables.

    With local ethics committee approval and having obtained informed consent, 12 healthy, non-smoking men (22 +/- 3 years; maximal O2 uptake, 56 +/- 6 ml kg(-1) min(-1), mean +/- s.d.) cycled to exhaustion at 18 degrees C and 65% of their peak aerobic power, wearing either a 7 mg transdermal nicotine patch (NIC) or a colour-matched placebo (PLA) in a randomized cross-over design; water was available ad libitum.

    Subjects were exercising at approximately 75% of their maximal O2 uptake with no differences in cadence between trials. Ten out of 12 subjects cycled for longer with NIC administration, and this resulted in a significant 17 +/- 7% improvement in performance (P < 0.05).

    No differences were observed for perceived exertion, heart rate or ventilation. There were no differences in concentrations of plasma glucose, lactate or circulating fatty acids. In the absence of any effect on peripheral markers, we conclude that nicotine prolongs endurance by a central mechanism. Possible modes of action are suggested.

    Hmm… If I can’t get nicotine patches I wonder if 20 Bensons will do the trick.


    Every night, once the wife has fallen asleep, I put a nicotine patch on her arm. I then remove it before she wakes up.

    That way she won’t be able to leave me, and if she does she will feel a strong desire to come back…

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    Taking drugs in making you better shocker.

    Could be an interesting one to legislate for, its well known that a double shot of espresso before traning helps you allong, just as ibuprophen does, and it’d be hard for WADA, UCI etc to ban smoking, just as they can’t ban coffee or off the shelf painkillers.

    its well known that a double shot of espresso before traning helps you allong, just as ibuprophen does, and it’d be hard for WADA, UCI etc to ban smoking

    But there are controls over the amount of caffeine athletes can have inside them.


    Greg Rusedski seemed to often be suffering from a cold but his coach has made him a concoction of caffienated stuff to ‘keep him going’.

    I always thought that they were just trying to zone him in.


    I wasn’t thinking of it as a supplement for professional athletes, just thought it could be a useful means to be able to stay out longer and push harder/further. 😉

    Are these nicotine patches addictive? Genuine question. Not being a smoker I wouldn’t know, but I’d expect that it is the nicotine that drives the craving so you’d want to keep the patches on. In that case the raised boost would no longer be a boost, just a normal level of performance and you’d be looking for something to go to the next level. So it is an arms race and all a bit pointless really.

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