I first became fond of the lunchtime walk when working at a clinic in Wisconsin. The clinic happened to be situated adjacent to a trail that followed a scenic river for miles and the proximity made a short stroll easy and appealing. I began enjoying my brief lunch hour outside on the trail and noted the calming effect this had. I returned to work feeling more invigorated and ready to tackle the tasks at hand.
Recently, a study was published by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports that affirmed my experience. The study was conducted on previously inactive university employees and was designed to measure changes in workplace affect. The employees were split into two groups with one group participating in a group-led 30 minute walk for ten weeks. The study found that the lunchtime walks “improved enthusiasm, relaxation and nervousness at work,” which supports causal evidence that physical activity has an impact on workplace affect.
Additionally, a followup study published in the Journal of Mental and Physical Activity found that the employees also believed that their work performance had improved after the walks, which is no small achievement for such a moderate lifestyle change. Finally, the followup study found the results to be relatively long lasting with positive changes in mood and performance observed four months after the initial trial. More research is needed to solidify the linkage and examine the other potential health benefits, however, there is no harm in trying it out for yourself. Not all lifestyle changes need to be dramatic overhauls of your existing routines, some can be as simple as taking a few extra steps during the middle of your day. Make it interesting by exploring new areas/routes or see if some of your coworkers are interested in joining you and make some new friends!