I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. My work requires a good bit of travel, and while I have managed to go to the gym, the pattern was easily broken. I started putting on weight and, as I’m turning 50 next May, I’m at the age where being still for a long period of time actually hurts.
I read a Huffington Post article about humans’ 90-minute mental cycle, which says that we can focus for 90 minutes at a time, but then our brains need a breather. It follows a similar pattern to sleep.
The problem is, this is not a natural work rhythm and not only is it ignored, it’s often discouraged. We tend to plow into projects for as long as we think necessary (often justified by available time on our calendars).
“Many of us unwittingly train ourselves to ignore signals from our body that we need a rest — difficulty concentrating, physical restlessness, irritability. Instead, we find ways to override this need with caffeine, sugar, and our own stress hormones — adrenalin, noradrenalin, and cortisol — all of which provide short bursts of energy but leave us over-aroused.” – Tony Swartz
As a culture, we’re incredibly sedentary. I read an opinion piece that laid it out this way: “Americans spend their lives in search of the next chair.” Align that with your own experience. Desk, conference room, car, recliner. Sitting is our lives.
My new iPhone automatically tracks my steps, and I was curious to see what results a typical day produced. I clocked 3500 steps, mostly in the morning and evening, and maybe some during the day because the restrooms are a decent ways from our office.
This motivated me to consider a different routine. Over the last 2 months, I’ve started walking after an intense or long meeting, when my laptop battery needs to be recharged, lunchtime… whenever feels right. The results so far have been amazing, and I average around 11,000 steps a day now.
I’m usually back within 15 or 20 minutes, and surprisingly enough, I rarely feel like I’ve missed anything. In fact, during the down time, my brain will usually start preparing for whatever is coming next, so I usually go into meetings or projects with a very good head start.
I walked 142 miles last month. I live in Apex, but work in Raleigh (13 miles each way), so that means I could’ve walked to work one full week last month, plus a little extra. If I feel the need, I go out and move a bit. Try it sometime, if you’re able to. It feels good!