When I can’t find my boss, vice president of marketing for MyFitnessPal Tara Nicholle Nelson, at her desk, I walk down the corridor of our office and head to a set of raised work spaces retro-fitted over treadmills. There, I can usually find her clad in business attire and bright sneakers, banging out a proposal or finishing up a conference call while pounding the plastic pavement. “Walking while I work clears my head, cranks up my creativity, and helps me knock things off my to-do,” says Nelson.
Activity has long been touted for sweeping away mental cobwebs and increasing energy. And now there’s scientific evidence to back up what Nelson has noticed during her stroll sessions. A study recently released by the University of Minnesota finds treadmills in the work place increase productivity by nearly ten percent. Not only that, when researchers followed about 40 employees at a Minneapolis financial services company that regularly used treadmills instead of chairs, they observed an uptick in the quality of their work, too.
Walking at work is becoming increasingly popular with accounting firms, media agencies, and tech companies. At MyFitnessPal, staffers are encouraged to book walking meetings and spend time on the treadmills. “I set the speed to 2 miles per hour, and walk while going through my email,” says Elle Penner, R.D., head of nutrition at MyFitnessPal. “It’s amazing how much I can sort through on the move!”
Can’t seem to convince the purchasing manager at your office to foot the bill for a desk-mill? Here are some simple ways to slip a workout into your workday from Office Depot’s fitness ambassador, Fitz Koehler:
Take short fitness breaks throughout the day “Just 3 to 5 minutes every hour will help you reach a total of 30 minutes of exercise activity for the day,” says Koehler. Try ducking into the stairs and doing a couple flights on your way back from a bathroom break.
Plan walk-and-talk meetings at the office “There’s no reason you can’t move while discussing business,” she says. “If you work from home, use a hands-free headset and jump on your treadmill or do laps around the block for all phone meetings.”
Touch your toes “Stretching at your 9-to-5 will bring you countless benefits including boosts in coordination and energy,” says Koehler.
Strength train during conference calls “Put the group on speaker-phone and do pushups, lunges, or dips while you listen,” she says.
Make it a company-wide challenge “People who participate in group exercises, like wall squats, plank challenges, and lunge walks, are more likely to adhere to an exercise program and workout longer and more intensely than those who workout individually,” says Koehler.
Log your activity in MyFitnessPal “Using a tracking app can help monitor your activity, making sure you hit your goals and stay productive at home, at the office, and on the road,” she says.
How does your office encourage health and fitness? Have you tried walking meetings?