Coffee vs Exercise. Which is better for Energy and Focus

During the month of April, we will explore all the ways you can increase your energy levels.

Coffee Beans in form of a Running Man

Coffee gets you going in the morning, providing a little oomph to clear the cobwebs and get your day started. This common comfort has been shown by many studies (and our own experience) to improve focus, increase energy, and improve mood as well. This is on top of the fact that coffee’s essential minerals (chromium, potassium, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium) and powerful antioxidants make it exceptionally good for you.

But what if you want more energy in the morning or mid-afternoon and don’t drink coffee. Or perhaps you want to wean off the coffee?

It turns out that exercise provides many of the same energy-boosting benefits as coffee. Even brief bursts of exercise increases alertness, makes you think more quickly,  and improves memory. And you can get this improvement whether you are an athlete or not.

But which is better for improving energy, coffee or exercise?

coffee by running shoes and jump rope

In a head to head comparison between between these two, reported here in this Harvard Article, it was found that “just 10 minutes of stair-climbing boosted self-reported levels of energy far more than a moderate dose of caffeine (50 mg).” 

At this point you’re thinking that you happen to like your hot coffee in the morning, and the caffeine jolt it brings to your sleepy brain! Why would you give that up just for a little extra energy benefit.

But where coffee provides short term benefits (2-4 hours), exercise has many long term benefits not only for your energy levels. The same short term gains you get from coffee on thinking skills, energy, and mood are also gotten as a result of exercise. The effect of exercise is longer lasting.

As you develop more muscle tone from being active, this can wake up your sleepy metabolism in the long term, thus giving you an energy boost in the long term as well.

So maybe the best solution is to have a little coffee if you love it, but then be active as well. That way you get the best of both energy boosting benefits.