When that afternoon slump hits, you might be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee or a can of soda to chase away the fogginess. But you don’t need caffeine to get an energy jolt, a new study in Physiology & Behaviour suggests.
Researchers had 18 women who were chronically sleep-deprived complete two separate experiments: In the first, they took 50 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, which is slightly less than you’d get in a 350-mL can of Mountain Dew. In the second, they walked up and down stairs at a regular pace for 10 minutes.
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The participants felt significantly more energetic after climbing the stairs than they did after taking in the caffeine—and they felt the renewed vigour immediately after the exercise, the researchers found.
The researchers also tested the participants’ working memory and reaction time after completing the tasks. They didn’t find a difference between them with the caffeine versus stair-climbing experiments, showing that physical activity can increase your physical energy without draining your mental energy.
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Now, the study was performed on women, so it’s not entirely clear whether the same effects would apply to men, too. But there’s never a downside to fitting in some more physical activity in your day.
This article originally appeared on Menshealth.com.