Here at Good Feet headquarters, we’re always looking for ways to live our best lives. And lately we’ve been reading about the benefits of incorporating regular walk breaks into the work day. So we decided to give it a try.
It’s recommended that individuals get at least a half an hour of exercise every day. Two minute walks during each hour of an 8-hour work day covers just over half of those thirty minutes. We decided to keep our walks short and sweet and planned to take them every hour.
For two weeks, members of the Good Feet team who wanted to take on the challenge set out for eight short walks during their work day. The goal: determine if these frequently discussed walk breaks really live up to all the hype.
The course around our building was a bit longer than two minutes, but it was pleasant to be able to walk a loop. No redundancy here…we’re only moving forward! Also, setting a timer for a minute and turning around abruptly when it sounded didn’t fit into the “refresh” mentality we were seeing if we could cultivate.
It took some time to assemble the folks who wanted to walk together, but overall it was helpful to go as a group: coworkers can help remind you that it’s time for a break when you get immersed in a project.
Of course, we ran this experiment during some of the hottest days of summer. But it was fun to see the days progress. We’d walk during the cool, breezy morning and see it become a sweltering afternoon. In the deliciously cool air-conditioned office you don’t always get a clear idea of what’s going on outside. Getting that perspective is refreshing.
Despite the frequency of the walks, there were no reports of a decrease in productivity. We all take breaks in our day, whether it’s answering emails or having a snack-and-think break. Designating time for a break that is all about activity can refresh in ways that other breaks can’t.
We found that the more we did it, the more it became a habit we didn’t have to think about. Moreover, our bodies came to expect and enjoy the regular movement! For those individuals who get antsy when sitting for long periods of time, walking breaks are an efficient way to stretch and get the circulation going.
The Bottom Line: Good Feet noticed that regular walk breaks make a noticable mental difference. Members of the team reported that it was nice to take a break from the computer to get a breath of fresh air, and that they felt clearer when they did get back to their desks.
Deciding to walk once every hour is a big commitment, though. Having a flexible walking schedule that fluctuates with the day’s agenda is a more sustainable way to approach the activity. In general, it’s safe to aim for three five-minute walks throughout the day as you need them and as time allows. Good Feet also encourages walking meetings, which is another great way to get some exercise and fresh air.
If you plan to try this at your own workplace, let your employer know and give them an idea of your schedule. Part of the beauty of walk breaks is their spontaneity. But letting your boss know a rough idea of how many walks you plan to take during the day and their duration is a good idea, at least at first.
Oh, and one more tip: dogs make everything better, and this activity is no exception! Our office dog, Bo, encouraged us with his enthusiasm even during the hottest hours of the afternoon.