This costs you virtually nothing. Just five minutes of your time.
Sitting is the new smoking, they say. So you're supposed to take walking meetings or go for long, leisurely strolls at lunch to combat the effects. And get a standing desk. Or even better, a treadmill desk. And maybe a bike desk, too.
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Ideally you'd have a plethora of desks at your disposal to keep you moving.
Yeah right. These suggestions cost time, money or both. Despite the evidence suggesting 30-minute walks and alternative seating options might be beneficial to our health, it's simply not realistic for many. Ultimately, many office workers will still spend most of their days sitting. Are we all doomed?
Not if you can find just five minutes each hour for a short little walk around the office.
According to a recent study (hat tip to New York Timesfor sharing this), just five minutes of walking can improve your energy, mood and happiness. Bonus: It helps with food cravings, too.
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The study was published in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and involved a small group of 30 volunteers. Researchers simulated a 6-hour workday and asked volunteers to participate in varying levels of physical activity throughout the day. One group walked briskly for 30 minutes in the morning, another group took brisk walks five minutes each hour and the last group sat through the entire six hours. Participants self-reported their energy, mood and appetite. The researchers also tested their heart rates and stress hormone levels.
Participants who walked -- both the short 5-minute walks and the 30-minute stretches -- reported higher levels of energy throughout the day. The mini walks also seemed to improve participants' levels of happiness, reduce their fatigue and even reduce food cravings.
The walks did not change participants' stress levels or cognitive function. Stepping away for five minutes also had no significant impact on their focus. Thus, the researchers concluded, the effects of micro-bursts of activity "are likely to increase workers' well-being and energy, without detrimentally impacting worker performance."
The study was sponsored in part by Johnson & Johnson. "Boosting mood and energy doesn't require a major time commitment," says Jennifer Turgiss, Vice President of Behavior Science & Analytics at Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions. "Introducing short bouts of activity during the workday of sedentary office workers is a promising approach to improve overall well-being at work without negatively impacting cognitive performance."
So if you don't have time to power walk around the block during your lunch break (if you even get one), try this instead: Just take five.
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