The best way to tackle a tough task at work may be to crack a window and breath deep.

Compared with inhaling fresh air, gulping down the stale air found in conventional office buildings can stifle cognitive function by half, researchers report in Environmental Health Perspectives. The finding suggests that improving the performance, productivity, and health of many office workers could be done with just a fresh breeze, the authors conclude.

“The results are striking,” lead researcher Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard, told Ars. Researchers knew that air quality would likely effect cognitive function and work performance. But, earlier studies included few people and reported subjective data. We didn’t expect to see that high quality air could double cognitive scores, Allen said.

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