Cordyceps are thought to increase the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for delivering energy to the muscles.
This may improve the way your body uses oxygen, especially during exercise.
In one study, researchers tested their effects on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older adults using a stationary bike. Participants received either 3 grams per day of a synthetic strain of Cordyceps called CS-4 or a placebo pill for six weeks.
By the end of the study, VO2 max had increased by 7% in participants who had taken CS-4, while participants given the placebo pill showed no change.
VO2 max is a measurement used to determine fitness level.
In a similar study, 20 healthy older adults received either 1 gram of CS-4 or a placebo pill for 12 weeks.
While researchers found no change in VO2 max in either group, participants given CS-4 improved other measures of exercise performance.
One study also tested the effects of a Cordyceps-containing mushroom blend on exercise performance in younger adults.
After three weeks, participants’ VO2 max had increased by 11%, compared to a placebo.
However, the current research suggests Cordyceps are not effective at improving exercise performance in trained athletes.