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Why You Should Make Walking a Part of Your Work Day

Why You Should Make Walking a Part of Your Work Day

In his book In Praise of Walking, neuroscientist and author Shane O’Mara describes walking as a superpower, and the reasons he gives for this undeniably bold call are pretty compelling. Shane takes a deep dive into the physiology of walking, but for those of us who haven’t got time to tackle a whole book before we hit the pavements, we’ve compiled a paired-back breakdown of why getting on your feet will benefit your work life.

  1. You’ll be happier in the workplace
    As well as reducing the symptoms of depression [1], walking has been found to have immediate positive impacts on mood by triggering the release of endorphins [2].A study by Iowa State University found that walking for just twelve minutes while thinking kind thoughts about other people can cause a significant, measurable and sustained boost in feelings of happiness [3].
  2. You’ll be more creative
    The repetitive motion and instinctive ease of walking is often cited to explain why walking has such a marked effect on creativity, and leading minds – from Friedrich Nietsche to Steve Jobs – have labelled walking as the source of good ideas. Research by Stanford University has found that walking causes creative output to increase by an average of 60% [4], so focusing on work can’t be cited as an excuse to skip the lunchtime stroll. 
  3. You’ll take fewer sick days
    As well as making you more creatively competent in the workplace, walking regularly is likely to help prevent illness from halting your output. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that regular walking can significantly improve immune function, with people who walk regularly taking 43% fewer sick days than those who didn’t [5]. There are of course other, more long-term health benefits of walking: improved cardiac health [6], lower cholesterol [7] and healthier body weight [8]
  4. You’ll need fewer coffee breaks
    We’re not encouraging anyone to give up their morning coffee, but if you’re searching for that energy boost later in the day and know you’ll regret another cup, taking a walk might be your best option. Research published in the journal of Physiology & Behaviour has found that taking a ten minute walk can be a more effective energiser than a dose of caffeine [9].
  5. You’ll have longer to enjoy your retirement
    This one is, obviously, a little more nuanced, and there are of course other factors to take into account when calculating the length of your retirement, but studies have shown that regular walking is associated with an average 20% rise in life expectancy [10].

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