Walking up and down stairs at a regular pace for 10 minutes can provide the same amount of energy as ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine—generally, the amount found in a can of soda, University of Georgia researchers note in a new study.

The study, published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, was conducted by Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, along with his former graduate student Derek Randolph.

The duo aimed to simulate the hurdles faced in a typical office setting, where workers tend to sit all day and don’t have time for a long exercise session during the day.

In addition, they wished to compare an exercise that could be achieved in the office setting, where workers have access to stairs and have a little time to be active, but not enough time to change into workout clothes, shower, and change back into their work attire, according to a media release from University of Georgia.

Participants in the study were female college students who described themselves as sleep deprived in that they slept, on average, about 6 ½ hours per night. On separate days, the participants either ingested capsules containing caffeine or a placebo, or spent 10 minutes walking up and down stairs—about 30 floors total—at a low-intensity pace.

To test the effects of caffeine and the exercise, the participants also took some verbal and computer-based tests to examine how they felt and how they performed certain cognitive tasks.

“We found, in both the caffeine and the placebo conditions, that there was not much change in how they felt,” O’Connor says in the release. “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.”

He adds in the release that more research needs to be done regarding the specific benefits of stair walking, even for such a short time. But, he concludes, even the brief amount of stair walking can help enhance one’s energy without reducing their cognitive function.

“You may not have time to go for a swim, but you might have 10 minutes to walk up and down the stairs,” he states.

“Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs,” he continues. “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.”

[Source(s): University of Georgia, Newswise]