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Skip the coffee and take the stairs to survive the 3 o'clock slump

A new study says you’ll feel more energized if you if take an easy walk up and down the stairs than grabbing that cup of Joe.
Erik Witsoe / Getty Images/EyeEm Premium
/ Source: NBC News

It's nearing 3:00 p.m. on a hectic Monday and you hit that inevitable mid-day slump. You want to pack it in and go home, but you've got 20 e-mails to answer and one more marathon meeting until quitting time. What's the best way to get the energy you need to make it through to 5:00?

If your first impulse is to hit the kitchen or cafeteria for a soda or cup of coffee, you're in the entirely wrong location. It turns out that the stairwell is the best place to get that afternoon energy boost.

"It has never rained on me while walking the stairs."

In a new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, researchers at the University of Georgia's College of Education found that 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at an easy pace was more likely to make participants feel energized than drinking 50 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to what you'd find in a can of soda).

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The researchers chose walking the stairs as the activity to test for one obvious reason: almost every office building has a set of stairs and they're available all the time, rain or shine.

"Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs," said Patrick J. O'Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology who co-authored the study with former graduate student Derek Randolph. "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."

The researchers concluded that a 10-minute session on the stair's effects were short-lived, but study participants did return to work feeling more motivated and refreshed.

Bottom line: A few minutes in the stairway, not that doppio on ice, may be the key to surviving your next marathon meeting.