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This New Year, Boost your Health with Honey and Exercise

Do your goals for the New Year include improving your fitness? Although your honey intake may seem to be incompatible with your exercise regime, modest honey consumption may actually enhance some benefits of physical activity.  

  1. Consuming honey during endurance exercise can improve performance. Optimizing availability of carbohydrates prior to and during exercise is known to improve performance and recovery. Honey is a source of easily digestible carbohydrates, and has been shown to increase power, speed and heart rate of athletes during exercise.
  2. Honey consumption combined with exercise boosts immune function. Compared with honey supplementation only or exercise only, a combination of honey consumption and exercise had an immune enhancing effect, specifically increasing the number of some white blood cells (CD3, CD4 and CD8 T-cells). This may be due to the increase in blood flow from exercise promoting greater absorption of the vital nutrients in honey.
  3. Honey supplementation reduces markers of inflammation in endurance athletes. Compared to athletes who only exercised, athletes who combined intensive treadmill exercise with honey supplementation had lower levels of inflammatory markers (IL6 and TNF- α) and higher levels of anti-inflammatory markers (IL1). This finding may be due to the high antioxidant content of honey.
  4. Honey consumption may support bone formation when combined with exercise. A study of 40 young females found that aerobic dance exercise combined with honey supplementation increased bone formation markers compared to honey or exercise alone. The study was carried out over 6 weeks, with aerobic dance exercise 3 times per week and honey supplementation of 20g 7 days per week. Dance exercises were undertaken 30 minutes after honey consumption. Previous studies have found that honey can boost calcium absorption and increase bone mineral density in rats. Honey is known to contain vitamin K, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, which may contribute to this effect.
  5. When combined with other anti-glycaemic factors, honey and exercise reduce hyperglycemia after a meal. A combination of apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemon and honey combined with brisk walking after a meal, resulted in a greater reduction of the glycaemic response compared to the mixture alone or walking alone. The particular anti-glycaemic effect of honey is likely related to its fructose content. Fructose delays gastric emptying and increases hepatic uptake of glucose resulting in lower blood glucose concentration.



  1. Kreider, Richard B., Christopher J. Rasmussen, Stacy L. Lancaster, Chad Kerksick, and Michael Greenwood. "Honey: An alternative sports gel." Strength & Conditioning Journal 24, no. 1 (2002): 50-51. (Link)
  2. Rahim, Marhasiyah, Foong Kiew Ooi, and Wan Zuraida Wan Abdul Hamid. "Blood immune function parameters in response to combined aerobic dance exercise and honey supplementation in adult women." Journal of traditional and complementary medicine 7, no. 2 (2017): 165-171. (Link)
  3. Salehian, Omid, Mohammad Rashidi, and Mahsa Sedaghat. "Oral supplementation of natural honey and levels of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory plasma cytokines during 10-week of intensive tread-mill training in endurance-trained athletes." Biomedical Research 25, no. 4 (2014): 459-462. (Link)                          Tartibian, Bakhtyar, and Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki. "The effects of honey supplementation on seminal plasma cytokines, oxidative stress biomarkers, and antioxidants during 8 weeks of intensive cycling training." Journal of andrology 33, no. 3 (2012): 449-461. (Link)
  4. Ooi, Foong Kiew. "Effects of Combined Aerobic Dance Exercise and Honey Supplementation on Bone Turnover Markers in Young Females." Asian Journal of Exercise & Sports Science 8, no. 1 (2011). (Link)
  5. Ishak, Ismarulyusda, Penny George, Farah Wahida Ibrahim, Hanis Mastura Yahya and Nor Farah Fauzi. "Acute Modulatory Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon and Honey Mixture, with and Without Exercise on Postprandial Glycemia in Non-Diabetic Females." Jurnal Sains Kesihatan Malaysia (Malaysian Journal of Health Sciences)16 (2018). (Link).