Feeling lethargic? Climb some stairs. Research conducted at the University of Georgia shows us that ten minutes of walking up and down stairs is every bit as energizing as 50 mg of caffeine, about as much as is found in a can of soda, and about half as much as in a cup of coffee. A University of Georgia news release reports that the researchers worked with female college students who described themselves as chronically sleep deprived, meaning they were getting less than 6½ hours of sleep per night. The women either ingested capsules containing caffeine or a placebo, or spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs-about 30 floors (yikes!) total-at a low-intensity pace. Each group then took verbal and computer-based tests to gauge how they felt and how well they performed certain cognitive tasks. The bad news? Neither caffeine nor exercise caused large improvements in attention or memory, but stair walking was associated with a small increase in motivation for work.
“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” said Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology who co-authored the study with former graduate student Derek Randolph. “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.”