Try This Instead Of Coffee To Beat The Afternoon Slump

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Caffeine, in whatever form you choose to take it, is the go-to for most people seeking a quick energy fix in the workplace. Most of us can’t think of anything better for combating the post-lunch slump than chugging a large mug of coffee or shotgunning a can of Red Bull.

However, new research from the University of Georgia suggests that ten minutes of walking up and down stairs is a more effective pick-me-up than a caffeinated drink.

Study participants either took a caffeine tablet, took a placebo, or undertook ten minutes of leisurely stair-climbing, climbing around 30 floors in the process. The caffeine tablet contained 50mg of caffeine, roughly the amount you’d get in a can of diet cola or a shot of espresso.

On the days following the exercise participants immediately felt more energetic and vigorous. The feeling didn’t last forever but it was a bigger kick than they got after taking the caffeine tablet or placebo.

The study was designed to simulate a typical office setting, so the exercise was kept to a minimum to allow for the time constraints of a busy working day. Almost every office worker has access to stairs and ten minutes free at lunchtime to trundle up and down them – and you can make a start today (or tomorrow, depending on when you’re reading this).

These findings are far from conclusive, though. Only a small number of people took part and the amount of caffeine was less than you’d typically get in a brewed coffee (100-150mg) or mug of instant (65mg) – but there is plenty of other evidence that getting up and doing some activity is a great way to boost your energy at work.

Furthermore, even if it does nothing for your mental faculties, shorts bursts of stair-climbing can do wonders for your physical health. A study from McMaster University in Canada earlier this year found that brief high-intensity spurts of stair-climbing – a ten-minute session, three times a week – can result in significant improvements to cardiorespiratory health.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.