How many of us rely on coffee to see us through the day? Wake up and the first thing you do is turn to a brew. At the office, colleagues are always offering to make each other a hot drink and, by the end of the day, you might have had 5 or 6 cups without thinking about the consequences. You then start to bring one to a long meeting to make sure you can stay alert.
Problem is, the more you feed your body with a stimulant, the more likely it builds a tolerance, meaning you need more of it to have the same effect.
The latest research by the University of Georgia, published in Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, has found that the best way to see you through a long day in the office and to stop your body from suffering from fatigue, is to perform some low-to-moderate exercise first thing on a morning.
The key here is the timing. For the exercise to have a lasting effect, you need to perform this for a minimum of 20 minutes. The good news is, as it’s low-to-moderate rather than intensive exercise, you can achieve your 20 minutes with a fast stroll to the station or getting up 30 minutes earlier and making sure you take the dog on a fast walk before leaving for your commute. Participants in the research found they had an increased level of motivation through the day and didn’t appear to duffer from fatigue as easily as their colleagues who would drive to work.
Moving your exercise after work is likely to have the reverse effect, where you struggle to get to sleep and find it harder to get up on a morning as your body is trying to recover from the night before. We then to sit on the sofa watching breakfast TV with a brew, rather than bothering to get out and exercising.
Rod Dishman, a professor in kinesiology at the University of Georgia and co-author of the study, said that people “don’t realize that taking that first step to exercise can actually give them more energy, while also offsetting the health risks of those sedentary choices.”
If you really do not have the time to get your fitness kit and go for an early morning jog and it’s really a rush to get out of the door early, then try and mix up how you commute to the office. Instead of taking the train to the nearest station, get off at least one station prior and simply use the distance to walk with pace to the office. Alternatively, if you have a small office, why not see if you can bring your dog with you, which will encourage you to walk before you set off and then get out at lunchtime for a stroll?
Just make sure you get a minimum of 20 minutes and walk with some pace – a slow jog or morning swim would also fulfil the same criteria.