I walk a lot. I walk at home and I take a work walk on my lunch break. It seems the older I get the more I enjoy the simpler things in life like taking a walk.
Since I live up in the mountains of NH, whenever I walk at home it’s a beautiful environment amidst the trees, mountains, and fresh air.
Within the past year I have started to take regular work walks. I work in an entirely different state from where I live so the walking environment while at work is a little more populated and a lot less woodsy. But that doesn’t stop me from taking a much needed break in the middle of the day either on my own or with a co-worker.
As I have stated many times on this website I work in the middle of cubicle nation with absolutely no direct sunlight at all. In fact, just the other day a co-worker of mine told me after the workday was over that there was a pretty big snow squall during the day and I had no clue that it was going on at all.
But that’s the life of a member of cubicle nation and I’m happy to have my little block of work real estate which I call my own. It’s not an open workspace, thank God, so I’m not going to start complaining about my working environment. To be honest, I would kill for a cubicle privacy screen but I haven’t been able to convince the powers-that-be to allow me to put one in. Heck, they pay me pretty well so I know there are many unemployed people out there who would love my spot in cubicle nation.
Anyway, back to my work walk and why I think starting to walk has really helped me deal with the stresses and challenges of working life. I put together a list of 5 benefits but I’m sure there are many more! Feel free to leave more benefits in the comments at the end of the article.
1. Clears your head
How many times have you sat there at your desk trying to figure out a problem and as soon as you take off at the end of the day and are on the ride home that the solution comes to you? This happens to me all the time. One of the benefits of taking a work walk in the middle of the day is that it allows me to get out of that cubicle and clear my head a bit from problems that may be facing me during the day.
As soon as I get a chance to clear my head oftentimes a solution or answer to a problem comes to me once I am out of that office environment. This has happened many times on my work walk and it allows me to come back to my desk in a great frame of mind and ready to solve that problem and move onto another.
I’ve also gotten big into podcasts lately as they are basically a fairly new technology and allows us to listen to subjects that interest us at literally no cost. I use a set of AYL Bluetooth headphones with my smart phone that I wrote about in this article.
My work walks have become even more enjoyable when I can listen to topics that interest me and it takes me away from work issues. I love them because there are no cables that need to be connected to my phone. In fact, this past Christmas I bought 4 more pairs of these headphones to give as gifts to my daughters, nephew, and brother.
2. Forces you to move your body
I work out when I can and it has been this way for me since I was a teenager. I love sports and played a number of them in high school. At that time I started working out with weights and still do to this day. But over the years I also added cardiovascular activity to my workouts as well.
A work walk forces you to get up out of that office and move your body. Even if you don’t walk fast it still gets you up on your feet and moving. I’ve always thought that the act of working out is more beneficial for my head than for my body.
A work walk will get you up on your feet and chances are when you get back to the office you just might be a bit more invigorated to finish out the work day. Just make sure you bring with you a hat and gloves if it’s in the winter because outside you could just run into that snow squall that you missed sitting in cubicle nation!
3. Light exposure energizes you
As you may have seen in this article, I use a Philips goLITE BLU Energy Light each morning particularly during the dark days of late Fall and Winter. I tend to be affected by lack of light and this energy light produces a kind of pure blue light that occurs naturally on very sunny, clear days.
Your eyes absorb this blue light which helps you feel energetic as a result. Getting out and walking even on an overcast day can help your body get exposure to the outside light. Believe me, apart from the actual exercise that goes with a walk the exposure to light is just as important to me. Don’t underestimate getting out into the light especially if you are not privy to the outside light from your office cubicle.
4. Relieves stress
If you don’t feel stress in your working life I would imagine that you are one of the few fortunate ones. These days companies try to add workload and maintain head count leading to a much more demanding working environment for the workers who have to deal with that added workload.
I can honestly say that probably 90% of my stress comes from my job. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and am happy to have it but it is stressful at times. Right before Christmas there was a push to get all of these year-end projects done at the same time which added a significant amount of stress to my life. But I got through it all but still found time during the work day to take a work walk. The walk did help relieve some of that stress and I know that without those short walks in the middle of the day the stress would’ve been a lot more to handle.
5. Bond with co-workers
I don’t always walk with co-workers but when I do, it’s a time to bond with them and to get some things out of my system as they relate to work and maybe other co-workers. It certainly does help to vent a bit and at the same time get to know my co-workers better. It’s a great way to learn a bit more about their lives and share my own life with them. And, of course, it’s a lot healthier than sitting down to a Chinese buffet at lunchtime which I certainly have been known to do.
I’m sure there are other benefits of a work walk but these are the top 5 that came to my mind. I think it’s a great way to break up your work day. I’m actually thinking of purchasing a fitbit so I can really measure the amount of steps that I take each day. My brother has used one for a while now and competes with friends on step count each day. I think anything that adds a level of fun to your workouts or walks each day is a good thing.
So the next time a co-worker asks you if you want to head out to lunch for a roast beef sub ask them if they’d like to take a walk instead and go pick up a salad to eat afterwards. You just might find that the benefits of a work walk are numerous and you just might feel a whole lot healthier in body and mind as a result!