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Do You Fight Fatigue with Caffeine or Exercise?

By Sandy Schroeder

When you begin the morning with fatigue, do you automatically reach for another cup of coffee? Researchers say a short burst of exercise might be just as effective to get you through the day.

Most of us know coffee or caffeinated energy drinks will keep us alert and effective on the job. Coffee has powered me through a lot of morning deadlines and late-night work sessions. But I am now considering exercise as a healthy alternative.

I will probably continue to rely on coffee to back up my mornings, but I have found if I am still sipping coffee in the afternoon, it often keeps me awake at night. Then I am faced with more fatigue the following morning. Once I get into this “caffeine trap,” I find it hard to break loose. I drink more coffee the next morning, and really have to struggle to avoid drinking coffee to stay away in the afternoon.

Caffeine Sabotage

Exercise might be a smart afternoon choice to help me finish the day’s work and avoid the caffeine sabotage of sleep.  Harvard Health researchers suggest a brisk walk might have the same effect as caffeine, or even last longer. A quick walk after lunch or during my afternoon break could solve two problems at once. I might get some of my recommended daily exercise, and be energized enough to polish off the rest of the day’s work.

A recent small study of college-aged women, who were sleep deprived, compared 10 minutes of stair climbing with 50 milligrams of caffeine. The women said they felt far more energy after stair-climbing than they did from consuming caffeine. Not surprising, another similar study showed consuming caffeine with exercise was the most effective choice of all.

Weighing the Alternatives

Scientists and doctors have strongly recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise to maintain and improve health, fighting the effects of extended sitting. On the other hand, researchers have linked coffee with lowering blood pressure, fighting cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes, in addition to keeping us alert.

Room for a New Plan

Overall, using caffeine in the morning to maintain alertness, followed by a brisk walk in mid-afternoon, could be the best of both worlds. Without afternoon caffeine, the recommended seven hours of sleep might become a healthy habit. Now you might find yourself functioning well on the job and getting a healthy amount of sleep and exercise. I think that’s a formula that might be worth trying.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Goodyear, Ariz.

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