You’ve been sitting at a desk, staring at the same computer screen for hours, and, yet, just cannot summon one more coherent thought. You could use some clarity and creativity. So what’s the solution? Start walking.
For more than a year, brisk walking has been part of my own routine. Now that it’s become a habit, I catch myself feeling excited to step outside, stretch my legs, and breathe in the fresh air. Furthermore, it no longer seems like a chore. Not only is walking beneficial for my mental and physical health, this simple action can also boost productivity.
In this month’s installment of The Productivity Box series, I hope to get you excited about the benefits of brisk walking too. Let’s discuss how this activity can turn up the dial on your cognitive function and raise the bar on your work performance as a whole.
The connection between brisk walking and overall well-being
It’s no secret that any form of movement does wonders for your wellness and walking is no exception. In fact, a brisk walking pace can enhance metabolic function, cardiovascular strength, blood pressure levels, and aerobic capacity. A new study also found a correlation between a fast step cadence and better muscular tone, elongation, and mobility.
In terms of mental health, consistently walking about two miles a day helps alleviate stress, mood swings, anxiety, or depression. A brisk walking speed will also increase blood flow to the brain. This boost in circulation lowers the risk of cognitive decline, while stimulating executive brain functions.
Robust executive function like this allows you to control and shift the focus of your mindset, which can support your life and productivity levels in so many ways, including:
- Working memory
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Emotional regulation
- Impulse control
- Goal orientation
- Flexible, creative thinking
In the end, this leads to an overall enhancement of your mental health, alongside improvements in physical well-being and work performance.
The benefits of brisk walking on my job performance (and life!)
Given all this data, it’s not hard to see how the benefits of brisk walking can translate directly into work performance. In fact, even simple efforts, such as walking on your lunch hour or during a phone call, can increase productivity and job satisfaction. Over time, this can also help reduce burnout, absenteeism, and turnover rates, the research continues.
When I started my own brisk walking routine, I had a sense it would impact my well-being in obvious ways. For instance, it came as no surprise to notice my muscles gaining strength, my heart and lung function improving, my mental acuity sharpening, and my mood feel lighter.
Yet, beyond these visible results, walking has also brought about some unexpected advantages:
- I use the time spent walking to reflect on the tasks or goals I want to accomplish and how best to prioritize them. It’s like a brain dump in motion, which helps me process new ideas, clarify abstract thoughts, and retain information.
- I can exercise and plan out my work schedule or deliverables simultaneously, which gives me a jumpstart on efficiency and time management.
- I am a friendlier person when I walk. This activity encourages me to keep my head up, smile, and make eye contact with other pedestrians. This is a skill many of us had to re-learn in the aftermath of pandemic social distancing.
- I tend to consume far less coffee on days I walk. The brisk pace increases my heart rate and energy levels without a need for caffeine.
- When I return from a walk, it’s much easier to tune out distractions and enter into that zone of deep concentration, the so-called flow state.
The simple, yet effective productivity hack
Essentially, this routine makes me feel as if I’ve turned into a rocket hurtling towards Mars, rather than being a car stuck in traffic. Oh, hello, Elon 🙂
I become more energized, alert, focused, creative, and eager to tackle whatever the day has in store. My mood is stable, my brain is sharp, and my body is strong. Ultimately, this leads to a more efficient, high-quality job performance.
If you’re here every moth to discover new small hacks and could benefit from a productivity boost—as we all can, I have two words for you: