At the start of my career, I rarely took breaks or went outside during the workday. I usually brought lunch from home and ate at my desk.
One day, I was stressed out about one of my projects. After eating lunch inside, I went outside to clear my head. There was a small pond behind my office building and a short trail in the woods, so I decided to go for a 20-minute walk.
It was great, so I decided to go for a walk the next day and the day after that. Years later, a midday walk has become one of my favorite daily habits.
The Best Midday Habit: Go for a Walk
Many people have a morning routine and a bedtime routine. However, very few people have any routines for increasing energy and decreasing stress during the workday. The best midday habit is to go for a walk. Here are some tips to get the most out of it:
1. Walk after lunch, not before.
Studies have found that walking after lunch boosts energy, improves digestion, and helps control your blood sugar levels. 1 This makes you less likely to crash in the afternoon. (Eating a healthy lunch also helps.)
2. Walk for 15-30 minutes.
In my experience, less than 15 minutes is too short and more than 30 minutes is too long for a midday walk. Mine usually lasts 15-20 minutes. If the weather is especially nice, I extend it.
3. Walk somewhere peaceful.
Try to find a local park or trail for your midday walk, if possible. That will be much more enjoyable than walking through a busy area where you have to navigate traffic and streetlights.
4. Leave your devices inside.
Do not bring your cell phone or any other devices with you. Use the walk to disconnect from technology. Stay present and enjoy your time outside.
What if the weather is bad?
The weather will not always cooperate, but don’t let that stop you. If it’s raining, you can use an umbrella. If it’s too icy, too cold, or too hot to walk outside, you can walk inside. You could use your apartment complex, office building, or a nearby shopping mall.
For example, I once lived (and worked) in an apartment in four-story building. When the weather outside was terrible, I walked the halls and stairs for each floor- up and down. It took me 15-20 minutes to walk up and down the entire building, including the stairwells.
What if you are too busy?
If you think you are too busy to go for a short walk during the day, that’s even more of a reason to take a break. Consider the wisdom from the following Zen proverb. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you’re really busy. Then, you should sit for an hour.”
Summary and Final Thoughts
Going for a short walk after lunch is the best midday habit for increasing energy and decreasing stress. Follow these tips to maximize this powerful habit:
- Walk after lunch, not before.
- Walk for 15-30 minutes.
- Walk somewhere peaceful.
- Leave your devices inside.
A short walk after lunch improves digestion, makes you calmer, helps you clear your head, and makes you more productive in the afternoon.
References For This Article
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, executive recruiter, athlete, and peak performance coach. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com, and over 500,000 people across the world have read his articles.