The Walking Stress Buster

We all have crazy days.  On those days, I almost always work straight through lunch (hooray for Jimmy John’s delivery service!), sit squarely in front of the computer, and rush madly through whatever it is I have to finish. 

Yesterday, I put into practice some of my own preaching to others.   I went on a walk. I got up from what I was doing, and I wandered away from the office. 

No emails were returned for 30 minutes.  I even left my Blackberry in my purse.

For half an hour, I strolled leisurely in the sunshine and listened to an old “This American Life” podcast. 

Afterwards, I reminded myself why this was a good decision: 

1.        A 2011 Harvard study found that walking at a moderate pace for 30  minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%.

2.       Walking a mile burns about 100 calories.

3.       Exercise is a proven stress-reducer.

My boss even encourages me to do this. Why? She knows that stress is one of the leading causes of illness and absenteeism in the workplace.  A study published in BMC Public Health found that those with high-stress jobs visit physicians 26% more often than those with low-stress jobs.   Half of the 550 million working days lost annually in the U.S. are stress-related.  

And, because I felt better when I got back, I was more productive (and frankly, nicer to be around.)

So, how can you make this part of your day?

Unless you’re doing this during lunch, check with your boss.  If you meet resistance (which I seriously doubt you will) remind him or her that you’ll come back relaxed, refreshed, and less stressed. 

Second, schedule it.  Put your walk breaks in your calendar just like other appointments. I have an alert that pops up on my computer.  Yes, sometimes I ignore it, but other days, it’s just the reminder I need.

Third, find some buddies.  You probably have co-workers that could use a break, too.  Just vow not to talk about work!

Fourth, keep decent walking shoes and socks and a stick of deodorant in your desk drawer. Let’s face it, North Carolina can be a bit toasty.

Remember, a short stroll is better than nothing.  If you don’t have 30 minutes, take 10.  If it’s raining, walk up and down the stairs for 3 minutes.  

Visit our friends at Be Active NC (a Center Member) to learn more about making your worksite an active one.

Comments

I've just entered the workforce as a young professional and have found it difficult to keep myself active and healthy with such a full schedule! I already focus on trying to take the stairs up and down the office building when I can. Thank you for emphasizing that "exercising" at work doesn't have to mean busting out the sweat bands and dumbbells, but simply getting out and getting the heart rate up is beneficial to my health.

Well, i agree with most of the points of yours. Strolling is highly recommended by many doctors as well. It is a healthy form of exercise.

Another Idea that will help you move more is to schedule walking meetings.  I meet with staff each week and schedule those as frequently as I can so I am productive but also moving!

In addition, we utilize "energizers" at meetings so participants can get up and move for a few minutes in the middle of a meeting.

Happy New Year!

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