female office worker walking up the stairs

Ditch coffee, climb stairs for energy boost

Working in front of the computer the whole day can make you less energetic and you may feel the need to grab some coffee to wake you up from this lethargy.

Caffeine certainly has that energising effect but this effect derived from exercise and caffeine has never been examined in a single study in adults with chronic sleep deprivation.

Neither caffeine nor stair-walking caused any large improvements in attention or memory but stair walking caused an increase in motivation to work.

A new study from the University of Georgia conducted an experiment to compare the influence of 10 minutes of low to moderate stair-walking and ingesting a capsule of 50mg caffeine or flour (placebo) on feelings of low energy.

This experiment was conducted on 18 college women, 18-23 years of age and who described themselves as chronically sleep-deprived – getting less than 6½ of sleep per night.

The participants completed various verbal and computer-based tests to assess their working memory, attention, reaction time, motivation to work and mood under two types of conditions.

In one condition participants completed the tests after taking 50 mg of caffeine in a capsule or a placebo and in another condition they walked up and down 30 floors of steps at a regular pace for 10 minutes.

The scientists found that walking 10 minutes up and down the stairs made the participants more energized than ingesting 50 mg of caffeine – which is equivalent to a can of soda.

In both caffeine and placebo conditions, there was no significant change in how the participants felt. But after walking up and down stairs they felt more energetic and vigorous. This was temporary and immediately after the exercise, and such a big change was not felt after taking caffeine.

Neither caffeine nor stair-walking caused any large improvements in attention or memory but stair walking caused an increase in motivation to work.

This study was aimed at people who work at an office, sitting in front of the computer and do not have much opportunity for longer bouts of exercise. While going outside for a walk is an option, sometimes the weather can be less than ideal.

But most offices have access to stairs and office workers can take a break and keep fit within the short time that they have to take a break.

Coffee or stair-walking for 10 minutes?

It’s a tough choice but the results of this study should make it easier for you to choose between the two alertness- enhancing options. And one of them has the benefit of keeping fit!

Source: Physiology & Behavior

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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