Sometimes, a little bit of positive peer pressure can help us to do the things we always mean to do. I might intend to take a break from my desk to go for a brisk walk at lunch time, but more often than not, it is easy to just work through lunch and plan to walk some other time. However, if I have a group of colleagues waiting on me, encouraging me to join them, I’m more likely to actually make it outside. An Office Walking Group can be a great way to spend some quality time with your colleagues, get to know people from other departments and to ensure that you’ll actually stick to your plan to get some exercise during your workday.
Research shows that a break, and some exercise, such as a short, brisk walk, can improve your focus, concentration and productivity when you return to your desk. Also, prolonged periods of sitting can come with many serious health risks including heart disease, obesity and depression. It is important to your health to take multiple breaks from your desk throughout the day to stand up and move.
Walking can be low impact. You don’t need to break a sweat to experience the benefits of a mid-day walk and a break from sitting at your desk.
An Office Walking Group can be initiated by anyone! Employers who are hoping to get the best work possible from their staff can set the stage for health, and lead by example, by organizing an Office Walking Group.
If your company does not have a formal policy on health and wellness in the workplace, any employee can take the initiative to organize an Office Walking Group. It can be as simple as asking another person in the office to walk with you during a scheduled time, or as composite as a formal group with a team name and a team page on Social Media that tracks kilometers walked, encourages each other and offers incentives.
- Ask around to gauge interest among your colleagues. Put a notice in the lunch room or another public area. Send a company-wide email inviting colleagues to join your group.
- Depending upon interest, it may be necessary to create smaller groups of under 10 people. It can be difficult to coordinate a common time for groups that are larger than this. Even if not everyone can make it to a scheduled walk, keep the time, and hopefully others will be able to make it the next time.
- Determine the time of day that is most convenient for those in your group. Schedule regular walking sessions in your work calendar, as you would a meeting, and invite others to join you. This will ensure that no other meetings are scheduled, and increase the likelihood that the walk will happen at that time.
- Keep it fun! Establish themes, or topics to be discussed along the way. This may also ensure participation, as people may not want to miss out on the hot topic while you walk!
- Set goals, and reward each other for achieving them. Share inspiration health successes amongst your group.
- Can you manage to walk 3 times per week? How many kilometers do you hope to cover in a month? Create some friendly competition with other groups or departments, or those who walk at other times of the day.
- Use an App or a wearable fitness tracker to log your distances and times. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the kilometers stack up!
- Any time of day is ideal for a walking break! This can be before, during or after work. Some examples include:
- Instead of sitting for a coffee break, walk together to a coffee shop that is outside your office, and bring the coffee back with you.
- Instead of sitting in a boardroom, host a meeting while walking outside.
- Take 15 minutes to walk outside before or after eating your lunch.
- Make a plan to meet at the office half an hour earlier than your regular start time in order to get a walk in before the busyness of the day begins.
- Schedule a walking date at the end of the day. This will allow you to leave the office at an appropriate time. Walk part way home with your group, or walk to a transit stop that is a kilometer or two away.
If you find that you’d like more time for walking, break it up – 15 minutes before work, 15 minutes at lunch, and 15 minutes on the way home.
Walking can be done at any time of year, rain or shine, even in the middle of winter. Be sure to bring, or wear, proper outdoor footwear such as rain boots, or snow boots, so that the weather doesn’t become a convenient excuse not to walk. If the weather is not to your liking, you could do a few laps of the office floor (if the office is a large one) or even walk up and down a few flights of stairs. The key is to have a break from your desk and to get the body moving.
An Office Walking Group is easy to form, takes very little organization or planning, and costs nothing. Yet, the benefits are great! Not only will you get some exercise and break the cycle of sitting during your work day, you will be better equipped to tackle your work when you return to your desk. Most importantly, you will get to know your colleagues and build lasting relationships that are based on the pursuit of health and wellness.
All you need to walk during the day are flat comfortable shoes, such as the shoes you may wear to get to work. You may prefer athletic footwear, in which case you should keep an extra pair of shoes at the office so that they’re always there when you need them.
The time and distance of each walk can vary. Try starting with 10 to 15 minutes, a few times a week. Work your way up to the time that your break period will allow, for example, if you have 30 minutes for lunch, try walking for 15 minutes and leave yourself 15 minutes to eat.