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Taking the stairs beats caffeine as a workday energy boost, researchers say

Photo: Yuri_Arcurs/iStockphoto

Athens, GA – Need to shake off some afternoon sluggishness? Skip the coffee or soda and head for the stairs, new research from the University of Georgia suggests.

For the study, participants were given caffeine or a placebo, or they spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs at a low-intensity pace. After, they took verbal and computer tests to gauge cognitive function.

Researchers found that 10 minutes of going up and down steps resulted in participants feeling more energized than 50 milligrams of caffeine – about the same amount contained in a can of soda. Although participants did not show significant boosts in memory or attention, walking the stairs did result in a “small increase in motivation for work.”

“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal,” Patrick J. O’Connor, study co-author and professor of kinesiology at UGA, said in a press release. “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. You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down stairs.”

The study was published online March 14 in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

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