Our need to be productive and our commitment to health are seemingly at odds with one other; the nature of 21st-century work practically chains our bottoms to our swivel chairs. But what if a scientifically proven productivity hack could also improve your overall health and well-being?
This is essentially the bottom line of a study on walking, cognitive function, energy, and mood. “Standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention, and even dull hunger pangs,”writes The New York Times of the findings. What’s more, “Frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work.” Compared to a treadmill or standing desks, this is a cheaper, less cumbersome solution that’s realistic for all offices.
To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers asked 30 sedentary office workers about their mood, appetite, energy, and stress levels. They also measured their heart rates, and stress hormones, and had them complete a set of computer games measuring concentration and decision-making skills. On three separate visits to the clinic, the participants then simulated a six-hour work day: One where they worked straight through with bathroom breaks only, a second when they walked for a half hour before work and then worked straight through, and a third when they walked for five minutes at the start of each hour of the work day.
In the end, the participants felt happy, energized, alert, and craved less food when they walked around in five-minute increments each hour. “Even a little bit of activity, spread throughout the day, is a practical, easy way to improve well-being,” said study author Jack Groppel of the findings. “It’s clear that moving matters.”
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