Five Benefits of Fish Oil for Athletes

Taking fish oil is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. It has a wealth of benefits for everyone, and for athletes it's especially impressive. For those who have an allergy to fish or follow a vegan diet, the closest alternative is flax oil, but I believe everyone else should consider taking fish oil supplements (of course, if you have any health concerns you should speak with your physician first).

Physically fit male
Wikimedia Commons

Here are just a few of the reasons fish oil will benefit your athletic performance.

Muscle recovery

After performing any type of aerobic exercise or resistance training, your muscles will experience both stress and damage resulting in increased inflammation. Fish oil helps to reduce that inflammation and aid in muscle recovery, ultimately decreasing muscle soreness and allowing you to get back to your routine quicker.

Improve lung performance

Studies on fish oil have shown that taking these supplements that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids help improve lung functioning both before and after exercise. Those who are performing at high intensity levels can see great benefits as the body actually demands more from the lungs, muscles, and brain during these types of athletic activities. Taking fish oil also improves blood flow and oxygen delivery during peak energy intervals.

Joint health

As we get older, good joint health becomes even more important, and especially for athletes. As we age, joints tend to lose their elasticity and flexibility and taking fish oil supplements can decrease joint pain, lessen morning stiffness, and increase hand grip strength. The omega-3 fatty acids benefit your body by decreasing the activity of the chemicals that destroy cartilage as well.

Lose fat

The more in shape you are, the better your athletic performance will be, and taking fish oil can actually help you lose fat, and even better, it helps to decrease abdominal fat. The DHA found in these supplements can prevent pre-fat cells from becoming fat cells by killing them. Ultimately, this helps support weight loss by decreasing the accumulation of fat in the body. They can also reprogram the genes so that carbohydrates are broken down by the body and not stored as fat.

Heart health

Of course most of us know fish oil supports heart health, and a healthy heart is imperative for athletes. Research has show that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Heart experts recommend that people at risk for or with coronary artery disease should consume about one gram of fish oil per day.

I've been taking fish oil for about six years now and have seen the benefits first hand. Although I've always followed a fairly healthy diet my total cholesterol used to be close to 240, but after taking fish oil it finally dropped below 200. Both physically and mentally I feel like my body runs much better than it did without it.

K.C. Dermody has been an avid runner, hiker, and yoga enthusiast for twenty years, and as a trained yoga instructor she taught a variety of students from senior citizens to competitive athletes. She enjoys combining her passion for sports, emotional and physical well-being with her love of writing.

More from this contributor:

Get Your Heart Healthy for Valentine's Day: Eight Tips for Improving Your Cardiovascular System

Five Exercise Tips for Quick and Healthy Weight Loss

Five Tips to Kickstart a Lifetime Habit of Exercise: Lose Weight the Right Way

Three of the best ways to improve athletic performance and to lose weight

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Updated Sunday, Jan 29, 2012