As a borderline Type A-ish person who enjoys accomplishment and competing with myself, I’ve been a hard core gym-goer for as long as I can remember. Whether including plyometric exercises to my circuit training sessions, doing HIIT on cardio machines, or playing long sessions of singles tennis, I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of challenging myself while strengthening my heart and muscles. That’s why, despite all the many reports I heard about the benefits of walking, I was never drawn to going for a stroll as a form of exercise. After all, I reasoned, if a walk is good for you, isn’t a run or a high interval training routine better?
For the past couple months, however, I’ve begun adding walking into the mix, and I have to admit that now I really see what all the fuss has been about. Not only has it been good exercise that gets my heart rate up, it has also had a great impact on my mood, energy level, and my productivity at work. And, as you might expect, research supports my experience.
Curious about what the research says about how walking can make you more productive? Read on!
1. Walking boosts your mood
Research out of Queen’s University has shown that when you walk with a bouncy gait, it contributes to a more positive outlook. In this particular study, individuals walking with a “happy” posture remembered more positive words, whereas those who walked with slumped shoulders remembered more negative words from a list. Given that other research has shown the link between mood and productivity, this research suggests that even if you don’t have time to take a long walk, if you even make the small shift of paying attention to your posture on the way to the bathroom, coffee maker, or colleague’s office, you could potentially boost your effectiveness at work.
2. Going for a walk can help you concentrate
Do you ever catch yourself experiencing brain fog or having difficulty concentrating? Instead of trying to push through, you might be better served by going outside and taking a walk. For example, one study showed that after taking a walk in the park, research subjects showed less brain fatigue and an increased ability to concentrate. Research has also shown that a mere five minutes of exercising in nature can increase feelings of self-esteem and boost your mood. So, if you want to feel happier and more energized during your work day, why not go for a lunch-time stroll? I can attest from personal experience that it works!
3. Walking can make you a better colleague
One of the things I have enjoyed about walking is the feeling of serenity and contentment that washes over me when I go to a park and enjoy nature. Research has shown that spending time outdoors has a positive impact on your health, stress level, and ability to focus. Further, one study found that the sense of awe we often experience when spending time in nature may cause us to be more helpful. In this particular study, students who had spent time looking up at trees were more likely to help a passerby compared to another group of students who were looking at a building.
Perhaps Nietzsche was on the right track when he wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Give walking a try, and see how it impacts your work!