Sniff peppermint for an instant edge in the gym. In Raudenbush’s research, people who inhaled this scent before running on a treadmill said they felt like their jog finished faster; others were able to spend more time lifting weights. Peppermint aromas (cinnamon too) turn on a series of nerve pathways in the body called the reticular activating system (RAS), which regulates alertness. “That makes you more focused on what you’re doing, distracts you from any discomfort so you can exercise longer, and stimulates your muscles to perform better,” Raudenbush explains. Chewing cinnamon or peppermint gum or taking a few whiffs of either scent before your workout delivers that boost.