“Why can’t I just be productive?” you ask yourself. It’s almost 6:00 PM. You started work at 9:00, took a short lunch break, and have barely accomplished anything. Your last meeting went nowhere. Even though you’ve been sitting at your desk with your work open in front of you, your mind struggles to focus, and you find yourself seeking online and in-person distractions. Now, you have twice as much work to do tomorrow.
That’s precisely the problem: you’ve been sitting at your desk all day. Humans are not meant to sit idly and look at screens for eight or more hours at a time. Not only are our attention spans not designed to be “productive” for this long, sitting for this length does nothing for our health or creativity.
If you want to know how to increase productivity and finish what you need to during working hours, a big part of the answer is getting up and moving around. Even if you work a job that requires a lot of sitting down, finding time for movement throughout the day does wonders for your focus — and a way to do that is through walking meetings.
Walking is one of the most basic forms of exercise and can improve your circulation, heart health, and overall fitness. Getting your heart to work harder, even slightly, supports your endurance and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. Most people don’t get the recommended amount of walking activity they need each day — they walk about 3,000-4,000 steps instead of 10,000 — and a sedentary lifestyle puts them at risk of various diseases and other health problems.
Next time you have a meeting, inform your employees or ask your coworkers if you can take it outside. Any opportunity to squeeze in some exercise is a good one. You’ll find yourself with more energy and a refreshed mindset, enabling you to dedicate more attention to what you need to focus on.
Walking meetings also:
Walking gets your blood flowing to your brain, helping you generate ideas and improve your thought flow. If you’re frustrated with a lack of work productivity, it may be because sitting at your desk for too long doesn’t stimulate your mind. According to a study from Stanford University, “A person walking indoors –—on a treadmill in a room facing a blank wall — or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting down.”
Both light and heavy exercise helps your brain develop stronger neural connections. It may be challenging to think about other subjects while lifting weights or doing extreme cardio, but walking is an excellent exercise that supports your physical health while allowing your mind to focus on unrelated challenges.
Your mental health is just as important as physical health. Even walking for just 10 minutes at a brisk pace can increase your energy and alertness and improve your mood. Sitting down and staring at a screen or paperwork for hours on end is, understandably, somewhat depressing, and it reduces your mental clarity. Getting up and moving around while you interact with your coworkers or clients stimulates your mind and central nervous response system, influencing how you react to stress.
Plus, walking meetings enable people to get outside and connect with nature. Fresh air and greenery — even if it’s just in your neighborhood — can lift your mood and give you the energy you need to tackle the day’s work.
Want to know how to be more productive at work? Escape the corporate environment. Even if you and your colleagues work remotely, sitting at your desks can mimic the hierarchical structure of being in the office. Lower-ranking employees may feel intimidated to share their ideas, or executives feel compelled to speak for most of the meetings’ minutes. However, taking your call outside can “flatten” your meeting’s structure, making it more informal and putting everyone on the same level. Idea exchanges can flow more efficiently when you shake up the format.
On a related note, meetings in offices or via Zoom tend to have a more uptight atmosphere. Participants might hesitate to contribute or feel they need to maintain a certain overly professional demeanor that ultimately prohibits productive conversation. Going for a walk with voice-only tools removes the pressure attendees feel from being on camera and makes the environment more relaxed. Uninterested participants might look at their phones to distract themselves, but a meeting in motion becomes more engaging because people’s creativity is higher, and they have more visual stimulation from their surroundings.
If you’re questioning how to increase productivity at work, walking meetings present an excellent solution. They include multiple benefits at once, supporting your physical and mental health, creativity, and your team’s communication.