The best morning hack for boosting your brainpower as much as coffee

I remember the days when a cup of coffee made me feel unstoppable. That caffeine high would carry me through college classes, term papers, finals, and work shifts. Then one day, the very thing that made me feel unstoppable started making me feel sick — anxious, nauseous, the whole works.

I’m not sure exactly what caused the shift, but here’s what I do know — to this day, I can only drink caffeine in small doses. Even too many cups of caffeinated tea can send me over the edge.

Now, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t get down on a delicious double-shot espresso, like most people (unless it’s decaf). But I still miss the way coffee made me feel before it started making me feel sick…

I used to feel inspired, productive and ready to take on the world when I drank coffee. I had better ideas. I wrote faster. I remembered more.

I’d love to tap into the benefits of a caffeine high without the caffeine — and a new study shows that I can…

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Walking and coffee get mind juices flowing

Recent research from the University of Western Ontario shows that a short morning walk can boost your brainpower just as much as a cup of coffee.

In the study, researchers had some people drink coffee and others walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes. Then they compared each group’s working memory.

Working memory is short-term memory you use during everyday activities… like remembering how to use an Excel spreadsheet at work or remembering how to cook a certain recipe. It would be pretty hard to do anything without a well-functioning working memory.

Now, coffee and exercise are both known to improve things like attention and alertness, but in this study, researchers found they also provide an equal boost to working memory too.

A 20-minute walk was just as beneficial to working memory as a cup of coffee… which is good news for people like me who want the cognitive benefits of caffeine without the unpleasant side effects.

Researchers also found that exercise helps counteract caffeine withdrawal for people giving up coffee. It eased symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and crankiness.

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Morning walking or morning coffee? How about both…

If coffee agrees with you perfectly fine, there’s no need to give up your morning cup. There’s evidence it has certain health benefits, like a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease.

But if coffee doesn’t make you feel your best (like me), it’s good to know there’s another way to put your mind in a sharp, productive place in the morning.

Start walking at least 20 minutes at the start of your day. Do it outside if you can. Fresh air and time spent in nature give your brain an even bigger boost…

Research shows walking in nature can improve your mood and reduce stress. It sounds like the perfect addition to your morning ritual whether you drink coffee or not!

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!


  1. Exercise boosts memory like caffeine — MedicalXpress
  2. Effects of Caffeine and Acute Aerobic Exercise on Working Memory and Caffeine WithdrawalScientific Reports
  3. Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature — Harvard Health Publishing
  4. Does coffee offer health benefits? — Mayo Clinic

Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and