Take a short stroll: it can save your day

February 11, 2015 - 06:30

New research shows that a 30-minute walk in the middle of the day cheers up sedentary office workers. This makes the actual working hours more fun.

The majority of the participants in the study were female staff at the University of Birmingham. It was quite difficult to get men to participate, although according to the researchers this should not have any significant impact on the conclusions on how lunch-break exercise helps our frame of mind. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you think sitting indoors all day is bit hard, then perhaps its time for you to leave the building.

New research shows that just half an hour's walk three times a week makes you more enthusiastic, improves your ability to relax and considerably reduces stress.

"This is an important result because mood changes can effect productivity,” says the paper's main author, Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, a Danish professor at Curtin University, Australia.

"But it's also incredibly important for individuals, because the frame of mind we're in accounts for much of our sense of well-being”. In other words: the better we feel after a walk, the more likely we are to keep walking and the healthier we will be -- both physically and mentally.

A half-hour walk makes a difference

Thøgersen-Ntoumani conducted her study on 56 members of staff from the University of Birmingham, where she once worked.

None of the participants moved about very much on an average day, but for 10 weeks they were to take a half-hour walk on three working days and twice at weekends.

The participants reported how they felt via an app two days a week, morning and evening. The app enabled them to record the way they felt while it was fresh in their minds; previous researches has struggled with this problem.

Analysis of the participants' responses showed that all in all, they were in a better state of mind than the equivalent control group, who did not take the same walk during their lunch breaks.

Facts

The study shows that just a tiny bit of exercise during working hours is good for the employees' general well-being.

It also showed that the participants in the walking group were less nervous on the days they went for a walk, than on other working days, when they kept their behinds planted on their office chairs.

"Lunchtime walks improved enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness at work”, the scientists write in the paper.

A well conducted study says colleague

Anne-Marie Elbe, who researches motivation in sports psychology at the University of Copenhagen, praises the study. “It is good, because basically everyone can get up and go for a short walk”.

It has previously been suggested by researchers that less stressed, more enthusiastic staff get more work done and this, of course, shows on the bottom line. Perhaps the next step is to investigate this latter aspect in more concrete terms, Elbe points out.

"For example you can measure productivity and long-term measurements of how many days employees spend off sick. Hard data in this area would make it more interesting to employers," she says.

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Read the original story in Danish on Videnskab.dk

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Translated by
Hugh Matthews