“Oh, sweet!” was my first thought when I learned that I can take the bus literally from my house to the office doorstep. Given this, and the fact that the commute itself is only 12 minutes, I was pretty happy. But this blessing turned out to be a clever disguise for laziness.
And laziness, you can be so sneaky. I got to enjoy my new transportation predicament for a good week before it hit me – I was getting way too comfortable. I was giving up on a very simple activity that a lot of people – including me – sometimes forget about. Which is a shame, cause it’s an activity that comes with a lot of benefits.
I’m talking about the simple art of walking.
To some, walking might sound like an unremarkable activity, perhaps even a waste of time. Also, driving to places is so very tempting (as is public transport, to a degree). But there are really, really good reasons for taking time from your daily routine and giving that to walking.
The first one is obvious:
1. Walking keeps you healthy
While it won’t replace a workout, walking is nonetheless a great way of keeping your body moving. This is especially crucial for people who don’t have the time or the will (tsk-tsk) to exercise properly. The American Heart Association estimates that walking for 30 minutes every day can reduce the risks for various dangerous diseases, including coronary heart disease.
Also, consider abandoning the elevator – take the stairs instead. If your office is too high up, at least make the effort to battle through the last few floors on foot.
But the health angle shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This, however, might:
2. Walking boosts creative thinking
Every morning, I make a point to get off the bus a couple of stops short of the office, just to take a walk. Why? Because for some reason, it helps me gather my focus for the day ahead. But it’s not just my personal flight of fancy – recently, the scientists at Stanford University found that the very act of walking inspires creativity (Steve Jobs was a fan of walking for this reason by the way, as is Richard Branson).
Also, you might want to keep something like Evernote at hand, just in case you get an idea and need to write it down on the go (but do keep an eye out for the traffic).
3. Change of environment is good for productivity
The Stanford scientists were pretty clear that it’s the physical act of walking that inspires creativity, and not the change of scenery. It’s for this exact reason that the Walking Desk for the indoors was invented (though before jumping on that bandwagon, it might be wise to learn this lesson first).
But I would argue, that changing environments is equally important. Take this study here that links time spent in the green outdoors with improved engagement, productivity and wellbeing. Understandably, not anyone can afford time off for idle walks in the park (and some of you might not have a park nearby), but it’s good to at least break up office time a little bit. If you don’t have time for a casual stroll, leave the office for your lunch break.
Come to think of it, walk everywhere you can (just remember that yes, you can). No excuses.
Long story short – try these things:
1. When commuting, hop off a few stops short of your destination and walk the rest of the way. (Tweet this)
2. Leave the office for lunch, walk somewhere to eat. (Tweet this)
3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. (Tweet this)