Coffee, no doubt, can provide a pick-me-up. But what happens when it wears off? Or, what happens when your coffee tolerance builds and you need to drink a lot more than you should? Studies (and experts) are claiming exercise can also provide a burst of energy—and the lasting effects are far healthier.

Revving the Engine or Burning it Out?

With every sip of coffee, a caffeinated message is sent to your brain. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your pituitary gland. Your adrenal system is activated and hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are produced.
Remember, cortisol is the “stress” hormone often released when we become anxious or fearful. A few sips of coffee won’t hurt your adrenals, as a small amount of stimulation isn’t harmful. However, large amounts of coffee may actually weaken your adrenals. It’s not like you build a tolerance to caffeine, it’s that your body, over time, is less able to respond properly to the heavy intake.

Workin’ It

Yes, there are fitness trainers who aren’t completely opposed to endorsing coffee before a workout. Coffee can increase metabolism, helping you burn more calories. Having coffee right before a workout can also lend to burning more fat cells and not just glycogen. None of this is to say, however, that anyone needs coffee to promote more energy.

Exercise Over Coffee

A recent study was published in the journal Physiology and Behavior claiming that a bit of exercise can energize you more than a bit of coffee. The participants included college-aged women who got less than six and a half hours of sleep per evening. Some days the women spent 10 minutes walking flights of stairs. On alternate days, they consumed 50 milligrams of caffeine.
Across the board, the data showed that women felt more energized after the stair climbing. The boost of energy was pretty immediate after some form of exercise. Conversely, those who ingested caffeine did not feel much of an immediate burst, but the chemical remained in their bloodstream for hours.

How To Get a Boost in Your Day

One of the reasons the researchers chose this study was to examine ways for people who work in offices to get that much needed pick-me-up. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or sometime after lunch, a lull of energy can sinks in. The researchers wanted to show that getting up and walking the stairs in your building can be more beneficial than pouring that next cup of coffee.
Television personality and fitness trainer, Jillian Michaels, says there are several caffeine-free methods to boost energy. One suggestion is to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Another is to “take a 10-minute speed walk during a work break to get your blood pumping…and reduce risk of dramatic blood sugar dips.”
Perhaps next time you grab for that K-cup, instead, get up and move your body. Like Jillian says, take a brisk walk, or like the study suggests, go up and down some stairs. See if you feel more naturally energized! For more up-to-date info on health and fitness, check out GetThrive.