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Exercise & Fitness

Exercise versus caffeine: Which is your best ally to fight fatigue?

June 8, 2017

About the Author

photo of Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Monique Tello is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of the evidence-based lifestyle … See Full Bio
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Jim Mast
June 13, 2017

Have you done any studies on Probiotics, their effectiveness, and which ones should be used with Antibiotics for GI problems? There are many on the market and very little guidence about which ones to use and what they should be used for.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
June 14, 2017

This is a hot topic, and certainly a post should be dedicated to reviewing the research on the relationship between our intestinal flora and our health.

Samiulla Bandarkar
June 12, 2017

I didn’t know coffee had such a load of benefits!

June 12, 2017

How does a short nap compare to caffeine or exercise?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
June 14, 2017

I did not see any head-to-head studies comparing the three. And, the existing research on naps or comparing caffeine and naps is a bit dated. A 2009 review article shows that generally, napping can improve cognitive performance in varius domains, but more research is needed (J Sleep Res 2009 Jun;18(2):272-81. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00718.x. Benefits of napping in healthy adults: impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. Milner CE1, Cote KA.). A 2008 study compared caffeine to naps and found that naps were superior for short-term recall (Behav Brain Res. 2008 Nov 3;193(1):79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.04.028. Epub 2008 May 8. Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory. Mednick SC1, Cai DJ, Kanady J, Drummond SP.)

Robert A. Fairey, 89
June 12, 2017

I’m just a lawyer and can cite no controlled studies, but I believe the caffeine plus exercise scheme has the greater benefit, with emphasis on exercise and limiting coffee to 2 cups a day. Maybe it’s a de gustibus non disputandum thing. (Don’t like the Latin? Well it’s something you docs like to burden the rest of us with. How’s that for ending a sentence with a preposition?)

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
June 14, 2017

Sounds reasonable, and if you try this, keep us posted on your findings.

June 10, 2017

Well, I hope Roo Bookaroo won’t fall asleep as soon as he sees my comment. :)) Anyway, as a MD myself, and a former rugby player, I’ve always wondered about why the heck caffeine is always presented in SUCH a positive light. Is it the mark of a powerful coffee lobby? Are there a lot of vested interests thrown in? I don’t know, and I hope not, but like all things unnatural to man (tobacco, alcohol), coffee is bad for your health, period. How does it even compare to exercise? This is pure madness. Like Emmanuel Legeard, Ph.D., who is one of the best Olympic trainer in the World puts it in one of his well-informed articles, it’s even detrimental to athletic performance.

“regular intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, is protective against certain types of dementia and cancer…” It sounds like a miraculous panacea, which it is not.

Exercise better than coffee? Apples and oranges! Well, rather apples and garbage, geez!

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
June 14, 2017

Please check the references, all of the resources were peer-reviewed research articles in Pubmed. Most caffeine studies appear to be grant-funded, rather than industry-funded. This may be because there are such a massive variety of caffeine-rich sources, ranging from tea to coffee to soda to supplements, no one industry can benefit. This may also be why there is a relative dearth of recent research: no has a financial stake.

Roo Bookaroo
June 9, 2017

Boring comment by Will Roemermann. Making my irresistibly yawn.
I need to do 10′ of my morning squat/deadlift/pushup/shoulder press routine to eliminate the torpor generated by this comment.

Roo Bookaroo
June 9, 2017

“Making me irresistibly yawn”, of course.
It’s reading the previous comment that got my attention to waver. As soon as I reached shoulder press, I noticed my mistake. Thank god for my fitness routine which keeps my writing in impeccable style.

Will Roemermann
June 9, 2017

I find the best way to wake up is to stop reading these little ditties from Harvard. Although their research is most likely impeccable, the very nature of their journalists promote boredom and tiredness in return.
My personal solution is to strive for 7 – 9 hours of good sleep in a comfortable bed with proper head support (pillows) to prevent any nighttime discomforts that develop into morning aches.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
June 14, 2017

Yes, I have found that bedtime is not the optimal time of day for perusing the peer-reviewed research literature, for exactly your reasons stated above.

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