You’ve probably heard the health warning: Sitting is the new smoking.
The importance of getting up and walking to prevent serious health issues when you sit at a desk all day long has gotten a lot of attention recently.
Those health risks include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess weight and high cholesterol levels, all of which may increase the risk of death from heart disease and cancer.
Now, research points to even more benefits from taking a workday walk: boosting your mood and relieving job stress.
One series of studies used participants’ feedback to tell researchers how exercise affected them. The workers took three 30-minute group walks at lunchtime each week for 10 weeks. On two random days each week, they completed a morning and an afternoon cellphone report.
When researchers analyzed the results, they found that, on the afternoons following a walk, the participants were less tense, more enthusiastic and better able to cope, compared to afternoons on days they hadn’t walked. As a bonus, the workers showed gains in aerobic fitness and other measures of health at the end of the study.
Another study found that taking daily 15-minute walks in a park during lunch hour led to better concentration and less fatigue in the afternoon. And the benefits were seen almost immediately.
As a bonus — if you can take a daily 30-minute walk, you’ll also achieve the national guideline goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week.
And you don’t need an official worksite program to reap these benefits: just put on walking shoes and go. Of course, there’s more fun in numbers, so you might want to band with a group of coworkers and bond as you de-stress.
What’s more, you’ll provide motivation for each other to stick with the program.
The American Heart Association has everything you need to start a walking program at work as well as in your community.