You have probably heard about the numerous health benefits of walking – right from strengthening your heart, boosting the immune function, and easing joint pain to counteracting the effect of weight-promoting genes and preventing dementia. But did you know that walking can elevate your productivity too?
A few years ago, inspired by six legendary thinkers and believers in the power of walking meetings – Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Harry Truman, and Charles Dickens – I started to invite my clients and colleagues to join me for walks in a park. This was a bid to take us away from the politics, pretentiousness, and stress at the workplace.
What I found was that heading for the trees was rejuvenating. Being close to nature and exposing our tired minds to a restorative environment – the outdoors – brought the mind back into gear. We’d discuss work and breathe in the fresh air. Sometimes, we would notice a unique bird in the middle of the concrete jungle or be intrigued by a squirrel stowing away some nuts. But the best part was this: people were a lot more relaxed as well as creative during these walks and the meetings were more productive! Our personal connections became deeper.
How Do Walking Meetings Benefit?
A 2014 study at the Stanford University showed that people are much more creative when walking around as opposed to when sitting still. In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects who were taken to the forest when compared to those who were in the city.
A majority of us lead demanding lives, juggling work, home, personal requirements, passion, and professional commitments. This takes a toll. The tight living spaces, long commutes, and untoward interactions are a constant battle for the urban-dwellers and create tension. Walking can be an exceptional workout for both the mind and the body. Here’s how:
1. Improves Mood
It’s good to get out in the open air. Walking can facilitate the release of endorphins in the brain, the body’s natural medicine for happiness. These hormones can lower stress and, in turn, impact your mood positively. Once your mood improves, it might naturally spur intellectual creativity and problem-solving abilities.
2. Reduces Anxiety
Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Walking won’t just release endorphins but will also relax the muscles and relieve any tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better, your mind will as well.
3. Boosts Focus
Walking helps to relax the brain. How does that help? It boosts attention, focus, concentration, and your ability to learn. Who doesn’t want to meet with a boss or coworker who is receptive to ideas and suggestions?
4. Promotes Restful Sleep
Studies show people who walk have a better chance of treating insomnia than those who don’t. When you sleep better, you feel more emotionally stable and thus, function better. When you feel rested, you are more likely to be productive and coherent in a meeting.
5. Helps Control Addictions
Want to do something about that fifth cup of coffee you have in the afternoon? Or that sugary snack from the vending machine you eat to stay awake in yet another meeting? When you walk, you walk away from all these foods that seem to help you but aren’t any good for your health. Walking meetings won’t just improve your health but also keep everyone wide awake!
6. Relieves Stiff Joints
Sitting at the desk and typing away for hours together does a lot of harm to the body. The joints become stiff, blood circulation gets affected, and backaches and neck pain find a room. Walking meetings can be an investment in your health.
7. Gives You More Than A Workout
When you take a walking meeting, you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym or a yoga studio the same day, if you don’t have the time. Walking can prevent or manage high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease among other ailments. It helps you strengthen your bones and muscles.
The healthier you are, the better you feel about yourself. Happiness and health impact have a great impact on both productivity and relationships.