Walking Beats Caffeine for Temporarily Boosting Energy

Walking Beats Caffeine for Temporarily Boosting Energy

I am not a morning person, and coffee is my best friend. Sometimes afternoons don’t work for me either, so it’s back to the coffee pot. Some of you are probably the same way. But a new study shows that 10 minutes of walking could be more effective than caffeine at perking you up … at least temporarily.

Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) tested the effects of a simple exercise that can be done in an office setting, where workers have only a few minutes for breaks. Their results are published in Physiology and Behavior. [1]

For the study, 18 female college students – all chronically sleep-deprived – were asked to participate in workplace simulations for three days. One group of students took capsules containing either 50 mg of caffeine (about the equivalent of a can of cola) or a placebo. The other group spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs at a low-intensity pace.

After the simulations, the researchers conducted verbal and computer-based tests on the participants to determine their mood and ability to complete certain cognitive tasks. Neither exercise nor caffeine significantly improved their attention or memory. However, after walking up and down the stairs, the students saw a small improvement in alertness. Caffeine also increased alertness, but to a smaller degree.

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Co-author Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in UGA’s department of kinesiology, said:

“It was a temporary feeling, felt immediately after the exercise. But with the 50 milligrams of caffeine, we didn’t get as big an effect.” [1]

So, although walking for 10 minutes might not keep you energized and alert all day, a stroll up and down the stairs during your break might perk you up when you’re starting to feel drained. It’s encouraging to know that even lesser amounts of light exercise can be beneficial.

Related: How Walking – Power Walking – Can be so Beneficial

Consuming too much caffeine can cause you to “crash” and feel even more exhausted than you were when you brewed that first pot, whereas walking releases endorphins, a type of hormone which helps you de-stress and become less anxious. [2]

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Source: Develop Good Habits

Said O’Connor:

“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs. And a lot of people working in office buildings have access to stairs, so it’s an option to keep some fitness while taking a short break from work.” [2]

A study published in August 2016 found that you would have to exercise for one hour a day to make up for all the time you spend sitting all day. Might as well get started while you’re at work!


[1] Real Simple

[2] Medical Daily

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