What You Should Be Doing On Your Lunchbreak

In a recent post, I spoke about some of the foods that can help our performance at work, with milk turning out to be the unlikely superfood we should all be glugging heartily. Of course, consumption of valuable nutrients is not the only thing we should be ensuring our lunch break is full of if we wish to maintain our high performance levels.

See Also: How to Walk Yourself Fit

A recent study highlights how important taking a walk during our lunch break is to our performance the afternoon. Of course, the stress busting benefits of physical activity are well known, but studies have traditionally looked at the benefits in terms of days or even months after the activity took place.

This latest study took a much closer look. The researchers used a mobile app to measure the change in mood of participants there and then in a bid to try and more accurately understand how exercise impacts our mood as the day progresses.

Participants were recruited from a wellbeing program whereby staff were encouraged to walk on a regular basis, with all of the employees regarded as physically inactive, in that they were getting less than the 150 minutes of moderate activity that is recommended each week.

The group was split in two, with one half asked to start walking on their lunch break right away, whilst the other half were told that they would begin their own walking routine later on in the year.

Over a ten week period, employees were led on a 30 minute walk during their lunch hour, with the leader of each walk keeping a register of who attended and who didn’t. At the end of the ten week period, participants were asked to keep a diary of their own for the next six week period.

In addition, each participant was given a smartphone with pre-programmed alarms, one for the morning and one for the afternoon.  The alarm was designed to request a mood diary entry to be submitted at each time of the day, together with their current workload, tiredness and general motivation levels.

The Benefits of Walking

The results revealed that those who went for a walk on their lunch break were less stressed at work than their non-walking peers. They also reported feeling more enthusiastic and relaxed about their work, even on the days where they didn’t walk.

What’s more, this impact was significant later in the day. On walking days, participants reported revealing a significant boost to their mood and enthusiasm in the afternoon.

“Walking therefore seems to have both energizing and relaxing properties in the workplace, which supports the main hypothesis of the study,” the authors say.

The value of lunchtime walks is also linked to increased performance, with positive changes proving to be visible several months after the intervention had ended.

The authors suggest that one reason for the benefits of a lunchtime walk is that it is a great way to recover from the mental stresses of the morning, thus giving our brain a buffer to cope with the stresses we encounter during the day. It’s likely that this will be even greater if we take the chance to socialise while walking.

See Also: Turn Your Office Into Your New Gym

Is it enough to convince you to go for a stroll this lunchtime? Your thoughts and comments below please...

Changes in work affect in response to lunchtime walking in previously physically inactive employees: A randomized trial