Want To Be More Productive? Take a Walk
By Deanna deBara | Published September 27, 2022
too long; didn't read
Taking short breaks from the task at hand allows you to maintain focus and concentrate better. So, getting up from your desk and taking breaks throughout the day—like going for a walk outside—can help you better focus on your tasks and get more done.
If you’re looking to increase productivity to get more done, you might think the solution is staying chained to your desk all day and powering through your tasks.
But the truth is - if you want to hit your highest level of productivity, one of the best things you can do? Shut down your computer, stand up, go outside, and go for a walk.
Walking is not only great for your health but also for your productivity. But how, exactly, can regularly going for walks make you a more productive person?
Going for a walk can help you focus
As mentioned, you might think staying glued to your desk all day would help you get more done. But the truth is, trying to power through tasks for hours at a time isn’t conducive to being productive. And so, one of the ways that walking can help make you more productive? By getting you away from your desk—and giving you a break from your work.
According to research from the University of Illinois, your attention and focus decrease when you perform a single task over an extended period of time. But if you want to regain your focus—and keep productivity high all day—there’s a simple solution.
According to the research, taking short breaks from the task at hand allows you to maintain focus and concentration better as time goes on. So, getting up from your desk and taking breaks throughout the day—like going for a walk outside—can help you better focus on your tasks and get more done.
Going for a walk can help you better manage your stress
When you’re feeling stressed at work (for example, you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list or you’re dealing with a challenging situation with a client or colleague), it can be hard to get things done. In order to keep productivity high, you need to find ways to manage stress throughout the day.
And a great way to manage stress? You guessed it—going for a walk.
According to research from the University of Michigan, spending 20 to 30 minutes walking in nature can lower cortisol levels (also known as the stress hormone) by 20 percent.
Going for a walk can improve your mood
Most people don’t feel like their most productive selves when they’re having a bad day. If you’re feeling particular, sad, irritable, or just overall “meh,” it can be hard to find the motivation to power through your work.
The good news? Going for a walk can pull you out of a bad mood and get you back to feeling like your typical productive self—and it can do it fast. Research has found that just 10 minutes of brisk walking can be enough to deliver a serious mood boost.
Going for a walk can make you more creative
When you’re creatively blocked, it can be hard to navigate certain tasks—like developing a strategy or coming up with new product ideas.
But if you find yourself creatively blocked, there’s a quick and easy way to get those creative juices flowing again. That’s right—going outside and going for a walk.
According to research from Stanford University, walking increases creative thinking—and participants were able to produce 50 percent more ideas when walking vs. when sitting.
How to work walks into your work schedule
Clearly, going for walks can have a major impact on your productivity. But how can you work walking into your work schedule—and ensure that you’re getting the walks you need to take your productivity to the next level?
Identify the times when you need walks the most…
Everyone has certain times during the day when they feel focused, motivated, and productive—and times when they definitely don’t. Ideally, you want to take a walk when you need a productivity boost—so the first step in the process? Identifying the times of day when you feel least productive.
For example, do you find yourself feeling more stressed (and less productive!) as the day goes on? Then you might consider scheduling a walk in the early afternoon; that way, you can bring down your stress levels and return to work feeling better and ready to tackle the rest of your day. Or do you find your attention waning during your AM block of project work? Then you might consider taking a break and going for a walk in the middle to break things up.
The point is, if you want to get the most productivity-boosting benefits from your walking practice, you need to get outside and go for a walk at the time that makes the most sense for you—so figure out what that time is.
…and then schedule those walks on your calendar
You know that taking a walk outside can work wonders for your productivity. You know when you want to take walks throughout your day. Now, it’s time to actually schedule those walks on your calendar.
Put your daily walks on your calendar just like you would any other meeting. By physically blocking off the time on your calendar, you can avoid scheduling anything else during your ideal walk windows—and can hold yourself accountable to holding your “walking meeting with yourself” each day.
Go for spontaneous walks as necessary
Scheduling time to get outside and walk every day is great. But you can’t always plan ahead. Sometimes, you need to improve your mood, focus, attention, or energy in the moment—which is why you should also give yourself the space to take a spontaneous walk whenever you need it.
Next time you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, disengaged, unmotivated, or like you just can’t focus, wrap up what you’re doing and go outside for a walk. By the time you get back, you should feel a lot better—and have the productivity boost you need to get back to work.
Consider working and walking
Taking a break and going on a walk can be a great way to increase productivity. But walking doesn’t always have to be a break. Combining your work can stay productive and enjoy all the benefits of walking.
For example, do you have a team brainstorming session? Instead of hosting it in the conference room, go on a walk with your team to get those creative juices flowing. Or do you have a call or presentation you need to listen to? Pop in your headphones and listen while you hit the pavement.
Use walking to step into your most productive self
Going outside and taking a walk is one of the easiest ways to improve your mood, manage stress, think more creatively, and increase focus and attention—all of which support higher levels of productivity. So what are you waiting for? Lace-up your shoes, get outside, start walking, and watch your productivity skyrocket.
Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at deannadebara.com.