Originally published on Advisor Perspectives
Too many people are deterred from exercise because of the mistaken belief that simply walking confers little benefit. New research debunks that myth.
I’m working on a proposal for a new book.
I just took a long walk to inspire new ideas.
That research shows how those two activities are connected.
I’m fortunate. I live in Naples, FL where it’s almost always warm and sunny. There’s rarely a day when I can’t walk.
Writing books is hard, tedious work. Even when I’m not writing, I often reach a point in my day when it’s a struggle to confront the tasks in front of me. I’m sure you can empathize.
When that happens, I take a walk. I typically come back refreshed and full of new ideas.
I didn’t realize there was compelling research that supports the benefit of walking. These benefits are summarized in this blog post, published on Psychology Today.
Start by standing
I have a standing desk. I highly recommend it. I rarely sit during the day. I feel more energized when I work while standing. When I’m doing interviews or just speaking on the telephone (or coaching from my videoconference studio), I’m more animated and engaged. When I do a talk or give a workshop (which can last for as long as four hours), I stand the entire time.
Simply standing can benefit your health. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a reduction in mortality was related to “reducing and interrupting sedentary time.”
Standing isn’t the same as walking, but it’s a good start.
Boost your creativity
Who doesn’t want to boost their creativity?
A study by researchers from Stanford University found that simply walking had “a large effect on creativity.” The impact was immediate. The first time participants walked, they demonstrated more creativity than those who sat. When they returned to sitting, they were more creative than those who hadn’t walked.
The researchers believe taking a walk before a brainstorming session should help improve performance.
That’s my experience. When I return from a walk, my “writer’s block” is gone. I’m more productive, and more energized.
For those of you constrained by weather, you’ll be happy to learn that walking had a positive impact on creativity whether the participants walked indoors (on a treadmill) or outside.
Taking it up a notch
Particularly as we age, exercise may have pronounced benefits for cognitive function. Exercise may well be “a simple means to maintain brain function and promote brain plasticity.”
You’re in a stressful profession. You’re devoted to serving your clients, who can be very demanding. You owe it to yourself and your family to take a break and engage in simple activities and will generate more energy and creativity, reduce your level of stress, and improve your overall health.
Start by walking.