In addition to containing fat burning agents that help us shed pounds quicker following moderate to vigorous physical activity, caffeine is a highly psychoactive drug. One cup of coffee is actually equivalent to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise as far as boosts to cognition are concerned.
A new paper published in Nature Scientific Reports makes a compelling case for adopting java as our new workout companion.
“Studies show that a single bout of exercise confers cognitive benefits. However, many individuals use psychoactive substances such as caffeine to enhance cognitive performance,” the authors write in the new report. “Acute moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and caffeine (1.2 mg/kg) significantly improved working memory accuracy.
Not only does coffee lessen our risk for developing degenerative conditions like dementia later in life, but it also stimulates important cognitive mechanisms linked to endurance and short-term memory.
Effects of Caffeine and Acute Aerobic Exercise on Working Memory and Caffeine Withdrawal
Although caffeine’s impact on working memory in relation to physical activity has never been studied specifically, coffee’s mutualistic relationship with exercise has been established many times in the recent past.
Starting our morning with a cup of coffee has been shown to limit calorie intake throughout the day because of the way caffeine suppresses our appetite. Thirty minutes after consumption our blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolic rate increases allowing us to burn calories much faster than we otherwise would. These same mechanisms also contribute to muscle retention.
As noted in the International Society of Sports Nutrition, athletes who consume coffee before training express higher levels of endurance alongside an improved residence to fatigue.
There are abstract ways in which coffee offers cognitive gains during a workout but the new paper co-authored by Anisa Morava, Matthew James Fagan and Harry Prapavessis posit some previously undetermined physiological benefits.
More directly, the Western University experts were able to establish a robust correlation between caffeine and working memory. In addition, no discernible disparity was observed between cognitive benefits afforded by caffeine versus cognitive benefits afforded by moderate psychical activity.
From the report:
“Findings from the present study suggest acute aerobic exercise and caffeine administration improve WM accuracy in both non-caffeine and caffeine consumers comparably.”
Working memory refers to our ability to store and recall important pieces of perceptual and linguistic information. After just one serving of caffeine study participants out-performed their non-caffeine counterparts in a series of memory tests. Researchers came to the same conclusion after individuals were tasked with 20 minutes of physical activity.
Those who achieved this amount of exercise were also observed to drastically reduce symptoms associated with coffee withdrawal.
This is important because there is a threshold that determines when caffeine consumption begins to yield adverse short-term health effects. The Food and Drug Administration recommends individuals consume no more than four to five cups of coffee per day. Failure to adhere to this guideline results in migraines for 50% of habitual drinkers. Insomnia, upset stomach, muscle tremors, and general anxiety have also been reported.
On days that you want to abstain from coffee achieving just 20 minutes of exercise will dramatically decrease the likelihood of experiencing the symptoms listed above.