Many of us are guilty of a pick-me-up coffee of a morning to get us going but this habit can quickly become unhealthy. Caffeine dependencies are fairly common and are potentially harmful to your health. There have been associations of caffeine with increased blood pressure and heart rhythm changes. Caffeine works by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine's receptors, increasing excitability in the brain. So although it will give you that energy boost, it comes at a cost.
On the other hand, research has shown that walking for only 10-20 minutes can make you feel more energised than 50 mg of caffeine which equates to around half a cup of coffee. Walking also increases blood circulation, which helps to get more oxygen and nutrients to the brain and muscles, helping you to feel more alert.
So, Why Is Walking Better?
Walking improves your overall health, it isn’t just a quick fix to help you feel more alert in the moment. It’s also an effective way to maintain or improve your health when done consistently. Dr. John-Paul Rue, a sports medicine specialist says “Regular exercise, including walking, helps you feel more awake, improves mood, cardiovascular health and memory function,”.
A change of scenery can be refreshing. “When we get up to walk, we change our environment, which is a great mental reset,” says Alysa Boan, a certified personal trainer. “Often, when we feel tired or lack focus, it’s due to stress,” she adds. “Spending just 10 minutes walking outdoors can help you de-stress better than a cup of coffee.”
Walking doesn’t interfere with sleep. “Caffeine, especially in the late afternoon or evening, can lead to sleep disturbance, meaning you’re exhausted and less productive the next day,” says Joselyne John, a certified sleep science coach. “Going for a walk is likely to help you sleep better at night, leading to more energy and focus. Walking also gives you a chance to be outside and get exposure to light, helping regulate your circadian rhythm, which affects your quality of sleep.”
A short walk doesn’t introduce any substances to your system which can cause changes, whether positive or negative. Although caffeine has been shown to improve levels of alertness and focus when taken in moderation, too much can lead to irritability, insomnia, nausea and jitters, none of which are side effects of a brisk walk.Coffee contains a lot of unnecessary calories especially if sweetener and cream are added but walking burns calories whilst raising your heart rate helping your cardiovascular health. If you’re feeling tired or you’re in a slump in the middle of your day, go for a walk to feel more alert, rather than reaching for caffeine. It’s an ideal way to boost your energy levels, improve your mood and even to aid weight loss.