Taking your first steps as a baby is momentous. Once we get going, we run around like we came out of the womb walking. But then we start slowing down. The novelty of walking wears off and suddenly sitting down seems like the better option.
Sedentary lifestyles and sitting in front of a computer for hours on end is having a dramatic impact on our health. But there’s an easy solution – walking. If there’s just ONE Thing that you do to make the workday healthier it should be taking breaks to walk.
If you need to convince your boss or business partners that taking walks is an important part of the workday, share these seven benefits of walking with them.
#1 Walking Comes Naturally
There is no learning curve or equipment to invest in when it comes to walking. We all inherently know how to walk because it’s an intrinsic function. That means even if people aren’t in peak physical condition everyone in the office can still walk to get much needed exercise.
#2 Walking is Moderate Exercise That Makes a Difference
Working up a sweat with aerobic exercise has long been touted as the only way to benefit from working out. However, this isn’t entirely true. Aerobic exercise is great for your health, but walking also provides cardiovascular benefits. This moderate form of exercise has been shown to improve:
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood pressure
- Vascular stiffness
- Risks for obesity and diabetes
Another benefit of walking is that you don’t have to factor in a time for changing your clothes or cleaning up. Just slip on a pair of tennis shoes, and you’re ready to go!
#3 Walking is a Low-Impact Form of Exercise
Unlike some forms of exercise, walking is low-impact so there are fewer concerns about muscle strains and joint pain. Research has shown that walkers have a 1-5 percent chance of injury while runners have a 20-70 percent chance of exercise-related injuries. With less chance of an injury, business owners don’t have to worry about employees being sidelined in an effort to stay healthy.
#4 Midday Walks Can Boost Productivity
A few hours after lunch we tend to hit a wall. Our energy levels drop and we begin to lose focus. Once that happens, productivity suffers. A quick and effective fix is to go for a short walk.
The University of Birmingham in conjunction with other universities conducted a study that specifically looked at the benefits of walking for workers. Walking during a lunch break proved to boost mood (see below), ease tension, increase enthusiasm, and help employees handle stress. All of these factors have a positive impact on productivity.
#5 You Can Still Get Work Done While You Walk
Have you ever heard of walking meetings? It’s a trend that is catching on in the workplace. Instead of sitting in a boardroom to discuss business matters, you head outside to walk and talk. Because walking is a low-impact, intrinsic activity it is possible to do other things without losing focus. You can even take a tablet with you so you can reference information or take notes during your walking meeting.
#6 Walking Makes You Less Tired
Alert employees are productive, creative employees. The problem is a lot of us don’t get enough sleep. The latest estimates show that over one third of American adults are chronically sleep deprived. This leaves us tired, cranky and more susceptible to health problems.
When it comes to slumber, quantity and quality both matter, and walking can be the answer to an all-around better night’s sleep. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that walking was so influential it could even cure insomnia. The moral of the story: when employees walk they are more likely to get better sleep and wake up refreshed for work the next morning.
#7 Walking Improves Mood
Recently we talked about the many benefits of having happy employees. Walking is an easy way to improve mood. Every step you take makes you happier. That was the finding of a study conducted by California State University in Long Beach. The mood boost comes from an increase in endorphins that are released when you walk.
Now that spring is here it’s the perfect weather for walking. To encourage everyone in the office to get moving, time block for group walking breaks or plan a walking day when everyone can participate. Or better yet, start a wellness challenge to get everyone up and moving on a consistent basis!