How active are you while in the office? Do you take the lift or make an earnest effort to climb the stairs every morning? Do you keep downing endless cups of coffee to stay active or do you walk around to stretch yourself and avoid being stuck to your seat? These little habits may seem harmless but in the long run they play an important role to your health and well-being. According to a study done by University of Georgia, climbing stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make participants feel energised than consuming 50 mg of caffeine, about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda.
Well, work time can get extremely tiresome as you need to stay glued to the screen. As such you constantly look for ways to stay alert and focused. For a quick energy boost, the easiest option is to get your caffeine fix. But let’s not forget the harmful effects of caffeine for our health if consumed in larger amounts. We all know that one to two cups of coffee is what we really should be consuming in a day, yet our count goes up to six and more on most days, if not regularly.
While there are different ways to kickstart your morning on an energetic note, let it not be depended on caffeine. Try the stairs instead!
For the study, participants on separate days either ingested capsules containing caffeine or a placebo, or spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs, about 30 floors total, at a low-intensity pace.
“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said co-author Patrick J. O’Connor. “But with exercise they did feel more energetic and vigorous. 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.”
Stairs seem to be the easiest bet because you don’t really need to change into workout gear, shower and change back into work clothes. It is a simple but effective mode of exercise.
“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs,” said O’Connor. “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.”
Study participants were female college students who described themselves as chronically sleep deprived, getting less than 6 and half hours per night. To test the effects of caffeine versus the exercise, each group took some verbal and computer-based tests to gauge how they felt and how well they performed certain cognitive tasks. Neither caffeine nor exercise caused large improvements in attention or memory, but stair walking was associated with a small increase in motivation for work.
O’Connor added that there is still much research to be done on the specific benefits of exercising on the stairs, especially for just 10 minutes. But even a brief bout of stair walking can enhance feelings of energy without reducing cognitive function. “You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs.”
The study is published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.