We’ve all hit that proverbial post-lunch wall at the office at one point or another. You can’t just doze off for 30 minutes, so what do most people do in order to find that energy boost to get them through the end of the work day? They reach for a cup of coffee or a caffeinated energy drink. However, new research found that our feet can provide us with a similar and healthier energy boost.
Hit The Stairs
For their study, researchers at the University of Georgia recruited a number of female college students who struggled to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Participants were asked to complete both verbal and computer-based tests that identified their cognitive abilities to get baseline scores. Then, during a future session, participants were divided into one of three groups:
- A caffeine pill group
- A stair walking group
- A placebo pill group
The caffeine pill had about as much caffeine as you’d find in a can of soda, while the stair walking group was asked to walk up and down stairs for a period of 10 minutes. Afterwards, each group was subjected to another round of cognitive testing.
Energy Boost Results
After looking at the cognitive scores, researchers came to some interesting conclusions. They found that neither stair-walking nor caffeine were associated with significant boosts in memory or attention, but participants in the stair group showed a small but significant increase in motivation to complete the cognitive tasks.
“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said study co-author Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology. “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.”
Researchers say the findings could be most useful for individuals who work in an office setting. Not only is movement healthier in that you’re not ingesting a bunch of sugar and caffeine, but it also can help provide you with more motivation to get through the work day. Considering the fact that the majority of office workers have access to a staircase at or near their office, walking up and down stairs even for just a couple minutes on a break can give them a much needed boost.
“You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs,” concluded O’Connor.
Lance Silverman, MD
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