It’s easy to fall into the habit of reaching for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and then again in the afternoon when you need a boost. Try lacing up your walking shoes instead: If you need an energy boost, research reveals that going for a stroll is even better than having a cup of coffee.
Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens discovered that walking in a stairway for 10 minutes at a low to moderate effort gave them more energy than drinking 50mg caffeine, which is around half a cup of coffee or slightly more than a can of soda. Walking for more than 20 minutes, according to other studies, makes people feel more energized.
“The best known research suggests that exercise causes changes in brain neurotransmitters, which help enhance energy,” says Patrick O’Connor, PhD, a kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia who co-authored both studies. “Norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, or histamine are most likely involved.”
“Walking also improves blood circulation, which helps to get more oxygen and nutrients to the brain and muscles, making you feel more alert,” explains Sabrena Jo, the American Council on Exercise’s head of science and research in San Diego.
Why Walking is Better than Coffee
1. Walking helps to improve you overall health
Going for a walk isn’t simply a fast cure to make you feel more awake in the moment; when done regularly, it’s also an efficient approach to maintain or improve your health. Dr. John-Paul Rue, a sports medicine expert at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, believes that regular exercise, such as walking, helps you feel more awake, improves mood, cardiovascular health, and memory performance.
2. It’s Calorie-Free
Your caffeinated beverage could be a calorie (and sugar) bomb if you’re drinking ordinary soda or coffee that isn’t black. “For a variety of health benefits, physical activity tops consuming a beverage, especially if the coffee is enhanced with sweetener and cream,” Jo explains. Drinking sugary caffeinated beverages on a regular basis might lead to weight gain, although walking can help you lose weight.
3. It doesn’t interfere with your sleep pattern
“Caffeine can cause sleep disruption, leaving you weary and less productive the next day,” explains Joselyne John, RN, a certified sleep science coach in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Taking a stroll is likely to improve your sleep, giving you more energy and attention.” Walking also allows you to be outside and exposed to light, which aids in the regulation of your circadian cycle, which influences your sleep quality.”
4. Walking has no side-effects
A short walk does not introduce any substances into your system that may induce positive or negative changes. “While caffeine has been demonstrated to boost alertness and focus when consumed in moderation, excessive amounts can cause irritability, sleeplessness, nausea, and jitters — none of which are side effects of a brisk walk,” explains Boan.
5. You get a change in scenery through walking
“Changing our environment when we get up to walk is a terrific mental reset,” explains Alysa Boan, a certified personal trainer in Dallas. “Stress is often the cause of tiredness and lack of attention,” she adds. “A 10-minute walk outside can help you de-stress more effectively than a cup of coffee.”