The Ionic Athlete

By: Mary Coyle

For decades, Kate, an enthusiastic runner, traveled the country, participating in marathons and other competitive races whenever time allowed. Over the years, she began to notice a pattern: almost consistently, her fastest times were run in races located in more natural environments, especially those near beaches. In contrast, the majority of her slowest races were run in cities. Wondering if there was anything to this trend, she decided to do some research. What she discovered was that the pattern was not simply a coincidence; however, she was surprised to learn what was actually behind her observations.

What Kate learned is what leaders in the Russian athletic community have known for years - that negative ions actually have the ability to enhance physical performance. These ions, which can be produced mechanically by negative ion generators, are found in abundance around such natural environments as beaches and waterfalls where water molecules can easily lose electrons upon impact. When an electron escapes from such a molecule, it then attaches itself to another nearby particle. If the resulting atom or molecule contains more electrons then protons, a negative charge is created and thus, a negative ion.

On the other hand, the pollution and electromagnetic fields of modernized environments are filled with positive ions, which can have the extreme opposite effects on the body. For example, positive ions increase anxiety, lower test performance, and cause dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. Therefore, while physical performance is enhanced in environments rich in negative ions, performance can actually be worsened in environments where positive ions abound. Although many are unaware of the benefits of negative ions, their effects have been proven for years through their use in Russian athletics.

Such utilization of air ionizers began during the Cold War Era when a group of Russian doctors, physicists, and psychologists began studying the effects of negative ions on athletes, including gymnasts, boxers, swimmers, and runners. The resulting evidence proved unmistakably that these charged particles significantly improve physical performance. With this knowledge, the Russians began utilizing the benefits of negative ions to excel in Olympic competitions. Even as late as 1989, reports confirmed that Russians were still using negative ion generators with their hockey team as well as in their army.

As Russian research and many other studies have confirmed throughout the years, the benefits of negative ions are far-reaching. By training in buildings enhanced with negative ion generators and by staying in environments operating such air ionizers, athletes show marked improvement in endurance, reaction time, and coordination. In addition, those athletes benefiting from air ionizers clearly exhibit more energy and cheerfulness as well as reporting better sleep and improvements in appetite. Increased concentration, a sense of calm, and an improved awareness further enhance overall athletic performance.

Because the benefits of negative ions are natural and healthful, Olympic officials do not object to their use as performance enhancers. Just as negative ions work naturally in environments surrounding beaches and waterfalls, air ionizers can help athletes training in modernized environments to experience the same beneficial effects. Although the use of negative ion generators has not been widespread in the athletic arena, the effects of these charged particles are well-known in the scientific community and are proven to give athletes the extra charge they may desire in order to excel.

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