While the health benefits of exercise are well documented, the physical and mental bonuses of a lunch time meander have been given extra weight with a new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports this month.
Researchers recruited 56 adults who didn’t get a lot of exercise (less than 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week) and asked them go to for a 30-minute work – at any pace – 3 times a week for ten weeks.
The participants were then sent a questionnaire twice a week via an app on their phones and asked about how they felt about their workload, if they felt relaxed and so on. The questions were asked in the morning before the walk and in the afternoon post walk.
As you might have suspected, the participants felt less stress, less tired and much better generally than they did on the days that they didn’t walk.
While the researchers didn’t directly look at the participants productivity on the days that they walked, they have a pretty good hunch that things would definitely have improved.
"[T]here is now quite strong research evidence that feeling more positive and enthusiastic at work is very important to productivity,” Dr. Cecile Thogersen-Ntoumani, the study’s lead author and now a professor of exercise science at Curtin University in Perth told The New York Times, "So we would expect that people who walked at lunchtime would be more productive."
However some participants in the study said that they didn’t think that they would be able to continue with the walking program – which also had the added bonus of improved fitness, no biggie – because there was an expectation from their managers that they would work through lunch.
Which suggests that something has gone awry with the way we work. If science suggests that a little time-out is better for our productivity, how is the boss to argue?
It certainly puts paid to management jargon about 'projections' and 'costings.' Because really, is there any other costing so valuable as health and happiness?