Reap the Healthy Benefits of a Brisk, Mid-Day Walk

The toughest part of my job is sitting at a desk all day. Not only is sitting for long periods a health hazard, it also greatly reduces my ability to concentrate. Most days, I try to squeeze in an early morning workout, which is often cited as the best time to work out, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And if I plan to hit the gym after work, there is a 50-50 chance I will talk myself out of it by the end of the day. So that leaves lunchtime.

I don’t have time for a full-blown workout, but a quick walk that raises my heart rate is the next best thing. A brisk 20- to 30-minute walk at lunch can do wonders for both mental and physical health. It gives you a chance to burn a few calories, reboot your metabolism, and regain focus and concentration for afternoon projects and tasks.

Run the Numbers

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, people who walk at least 10,000 steps per day — about 5 miles — will burn between 2,000 and 3,500 extra calories per week, resulting in a vastly better health profile and longer lifespan. I try to plan a brisk walk during the workday at least twice a week. It’s a great way to rack up steps (approximately 2,000 steps equal one mile).

Sometimes it can be especially hard to pull myself away from a project, but when I do I never regret it. If you want to incorporate some strength training into your walk, grab some free weights and bring them with you. Incorporate steps and stairs to build leg strength.

In addition to the physical benefits, a mid-day walk can also:

  • Boost your mood and energy level — Energy often dips after lunch and a walk can help rejuvenate you.
  • Give you more free time — Working out on your lunch hour means you’re free for other activities after work.
  • Give you a dose of vitamin D — Your body needs sunlight in the same way it needs nutrients. Walking also helps lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and it improves your immunity, regulates your weight and improves your overall health and happiness.
  • Clear your mind — The physicality of walking can help you refocus for the rest of your day.
  • Save money and calories — Walking at lunch keeps you away from expensive restaurants and extra calories.
  • Reduce stress — Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and is much better for you than stress eating.
  • Release creativity — A brisk walk or jog is a great way to reboot your creativity, solve problems or come up with new ideas for your projects.

So, grab your sneakers and schedule your walk today! Here are a couple of tips to keep you on track as you start your new routine:

  • Schedule a walking appointment on your calendar.
  • Walk with a buddy; you will be less likely to cancel.
  • Leave a pair of walking shoes and a jacket at work so you never have an excuse.

How do you stay motivated and walking at lunch on a regular basis?

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Photo credit: shironosov

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