Feeling that midday slump? You may want to skip that third cup of joe and move your feet instead.
Two new studies are highlighting the growing benefits of exercising on the job, whether it’s going for a brief stroll on your lunch break or getting your blood pumping right at your desk.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham monitored 56 sedentary office workers at the university to see if walking during the day would improve their office outlook. The volunteers were instructed to walk for 30 minutes during their usual lunch period, at least three times a week. The study found that strolls may boost employees’ moods, as well as increase their ability to manage stress in the office.
The participants were divided into a control group and a group who participated in a 10-week walking program. Scientists tasked the employees’ with measuring their emotions based on their stress, enthusiasm, workload and other work and life-related issues. On the afternoons where they had taken a walk, the volunteers had improved enthusiasm, relaxation and nervousness at work.
In a separate small study, researchers found that performance on tasks requiring memory and attention-to-detail can be improved by using a treadmill desk. The team monitored 18 university students while completing a reading task, where half engaged in the activity while seated and the other half did it while walking on the machine. Both groups also received emails periodically, some of which were related to the task.
After a 10-minute break once the activity was completed, the participants were hooked up to EEG equipment and given a true-or-false assessment based on what they read. The walking students were more likely to answer a question correctly than their seated peers.
The new studies are hardly the beginning of research that supports exercising during your 9-to-5. In 2011, researchers in Sweden found that more physical activity at work could lead to higher productivity. Exercising during the day has also been liked to more creativity and increased mental stamina, the Harvard Business Review reported.