When you’re working in an office or store, you naturally have plenty of opportunities to walk. You can walk to and from the building, to and from meetings, to the restroom and back, to a restaurant for lunch and to confer with coworkers. When you work from home, you often find yourself sitting more and moving less. A study found that people who worked from home worked longer hours, while also taking shorter breaks, running fewer errands, and taking fewer sick days. While the increase in productivity may be good for your work and your paycheck, it may not be so great for your health and waistline.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to continue to be active. There are many opportunities to take walks throughout your day if you just look for them.
Don’t work from home? This advice is also great for people who find themselves sitting in place for work. While you may not have as many options to pace around your office, find ways to get up and move! Keep reading for a few ideas.
Read on the treadmill (or walking!)
Try bringing your reports, emails, articles, or other work readings with you to your treadmill! Use your phone, tablet or laptop depending on your setup. Reading while you walk will serve two purposes: it will distract you from the walking, particularly if you’re the type to get bored “just walking,” and it will also allow you to continue to be productive even while you take care of your health.
You can also break this up throughout the day. Spend 15 minutes in the morning walking while you check emails, then another 15 after lunch while you read a report, and another 15 before dinner while you check emails again. That gives you a full 45-minute workout, with no loss of productivity or extra effort on your part.
Don’t have a treadmill? No problem! You can always pace slowly back and forth around your living room, or even walk in place. Just standing up can be beneficial from a health standpoint rather than simply sitting in the same position all day long. Something is better than nothing!
Use the 50/10 Rule to Your Advantage
Have you heard of the 50/10 rule? This productivity rule posits that you will be most productive if you spend 50 minutes of each hour working, then the last 10 minutes of each hour not working. Many people find that using this rule makes them much more productive, efficient, and happy in their work.
While most people end up using that 10-minute break to check social media, watch TV or other non-productive tasks, you can use this time for a quick walk. If you work an eight-hour day, spending 10 minutes of each hour walking will give you almost an hour and a half of walking that you might not otherwise get. And because you’re only walking 10 minutes every hour, your walking will feel more effortless.
Get Moving When You’re Stuck
Sometimes you just get stumped on a project. You reach a point where you can’t figure out how to move forward. When this happens, it’s good to take some time to clear your mind and let a solution come to you. Other times, you just find yourself unable to focus. You feel distracted by a thousand other things, overwhelmed by too many tasks, or just plain frazzled.
Instead of trying to force an answer, or beating yourself up for not being able to concentrate, try taking a walk instead.
A Stanford study has shown that walking helps improve creative thinking, and others have shown it can also improve focus. Many people claim that they do their best thinking when they’re walking. The best part of this is that it doesn’t matter if you walk outside or on a treadmill.
Whether you’re looking for a creative solution to a problem or simply can’t concentrate, taking a short walking break can help. The Stanford study’s subjects had positive effects with just 5-16 minutes of walking, so you don’t need much. But once you start, you’ll likely find that you don’t want to stop right away.
Pace While Phoning
If you have to make a call, do the call walking! This won’t work for video calls, but if you’re on a regular phone call, get up and start moving. Pace a straight line between your TV and your chair, or walk in circles around your dining room table. If you don’t need your computer or extensive notes in front of you, take the call outside!
For short calls, or calls where you may need to consult notes, try walking laps around the outside of the house, or up and down the driveway. You’ll increase your step count and be active, and the person on the other end of the call will likely never even realize you’re doing it. Depending on the length of your phone calls, this could get you anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours of walking in your day.
For longer calls, or calls where you’ll be spending a lot of time just listening, you might even be able to take a longer walk! Just remember that the other party will likely be able to hear the sounds around you. You can let them know you’re working outside that day, or you can try switching to mute when you’re not talking.
Finding opportunities to walk when your work keeps you fairly sedentary might seem difficult. But if you take a walk and get your creative juices flowing, you’ll end up finding lots of little opportunities throughout the day that build up to big changes.