The study was recently published in the journal Physiology and Behavior. Study co-author Patrick J. O’Connor, of the Department of Kinesiology at Georgia said;
“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal…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.”
The research involved female college students who reported having chronic sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours of sleep each night). Participants were required to complete tests that assessed their working memory, attention, reaction time, work motivation, and mood states under two separate conditions.
Subjects completed the tests after taking a capsule containing either 50 milligrams of caffeine or a placebo. In the other condition, tests were completed after the participants had walked up and down 30 floors of stairs at a regular pace for around 10 minutes.
The team found that under the stair-walking condition, participants reported greater motivation to work and an increase in energy, compared with those under the caffeine condition.
“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt, 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.” said O’Conner.
O’Connor added that there is still much research to be done, but even a brief bout of stair walking can enhance feelings of energy without reducing cognitive function which is more beneficial than a dose of caffeine when it comes to energy and motivation in the workplace.
So next time you feel the need for that third coffee of the day, try taking some time away from your desk and hit the office stairwell!