As we continue to grapple with and adjust to the profound disruption that the pandemic has imparted on our daily lives, the need to find health-conscious escapes and releases can prove difficult. 

Exercise sanctuaries like gyms and group workout classes are limited in occupancy and availability, and often don’t meet local safety guidelines depending on location. Normal social settings for mentally fulfilling and recharging group interaction, such as restaurants, public gatherings, and arts venues are currently decorated in reminders that a return to ordinary life is still a ways to go. Not to mention, companies have overwhelmingly pivoted to remote work or have restricted in-office settings as they navigate the new normal of business operations. 

With these stringent limits on where one can go to enrich the mind, body, and soul for the time being, one activity that can offer supplementary comfort and improve one’s quality of life is still, and has always been available; walking. 

During office hours, employees typically tether themselves to their workstations throughout the day in an effort to ensure that emails are seen the moment they hit the inbox and pings received in real time on business messaging platforms. Due to the rigors and demands of business, this can make a sedentary lifestyle difficult to avoid for the modern professional.

Sitting for lengthy periods of time is shown to have adverse effects on the body over the long term. Walking strengthens the body, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, and helps produce clarity of thought, which can manifest in increased creativity and productivity. Making a concerted effort to take periodic breaks from assignments and developing the healthy habit of walking contributes positively towards overall wellness. 

My name is Bo Parfet; I am a real estate professional, author, impact investor, mountaineer, and explorer. I am the CEO and founder of Denali Venture Philanthropy, which supports social, environmental, and economic change via investing in humanitarian-centric entrepreneurs whose ethos aligns with our mission. I’ve also scaled the tallest mountain peaks on all seven continents. Whether treacherous terrain or the beginnings of an unknown professional journey, I’ve found that taking the first step is always the essential part of putting the transformation process in motion.

Walking is necessary for a healthy balance of body and mind, and thus for overall wellness. Whether you are in-office or working remotely, in an urban setting or close to nature, below are the short-term and long-lasting benefits of incorporating a walking routine into the daily schedule of work.

An increase in circulation can alleviate the strain placed on the heart by the everyday stresses of work. A steady rise in heart rate throughout the day is instrumental to decreasing blood pressure. Optimizing cardiac health aides in the fight against heart disease and expedites the healing of sore and stiff muscles. Nutrient and oxygen-rich blood flowing towards injured tissues supports quicker recovery. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week, is proven to lower blood pressure by double-digit points and reduce risk of stroke.

Burn calories to maintain weight. Walking is a low-impact alternative to high-intensity aerobic exercises. Research has shown that the amount of energy expounded during moderate walking is comparable to vigorous running. Though calories are burned more quickly while running, walking is more accessible throughout the workday as it is for many of us currently; it doesn’t lead to as much exhaustion and is easier on muscles and joints. Start with achievable goals such as walking 10 minutes while on lunch break, for five minutes at least once during each half of the day, and twenty-plus minutes once off the clock.  

Boost immunity. Walking improves immune function and increases the odds of fighting off infection. In warding off risks of contracting the flu or developing other illnesses, walking also minimizes symptoms and sickness duration when compared to a lack of regular physical activity or exercise. Walking reduces the risk of experiencing upper respiratory illnesses, runny nose, coughing, and sore throat as indicated by numerous studies. Walking is a nominal-effort form of preventive care. If work requirements prevent the ability for consistent exercise, interjecting walking sessions in lieu of web scrolling during the downtime will help during the flu & cold seasons. 

Increase the body’s energy. Rather than opting for quick caffeine boosts or incessant snacking, walking gives the body a more efficient boost in midst of feelings of lethargy. Walking raises norepinephrine, cortisol, and epinephrine hormone levels in the body, thus increasing stamina and strength.  

In addition to the physical benefits a walking regiment can provide, there are copious mental and emotional gains that come with a walking routine.

Combat mental health deficiencies. Walking reduces depression, anxiety, and feelings of low self-esteem in even a moderate-intensity session. Allowing yourself to Be in the moment helps curb negative moods, while inactivity compounds the stress. Endorphins are released when in a constant state of motion—mindfulness on brisk walks simply places one in a better headspace. 

Increase creativity and productivity. Walks are conducive to mental clarity while mental clarity paves the way for creativity. Slowing down from the business fast pace of business allows for the refocusing and reimagining of how to overcome obstacles and achieve breakthroughs. Walking also helps decongests mental roadblocks by drawing attention to one’s immediate surroundings. By stimulating neuron growth, productivity is charged up by even a simple midday stroll. 

Work motivates and propels us forward, But to get to a peak level of performance, make walking an essential part of daily experience, one step at a time.

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