We hear it all the time. Get up and go for a walk. It’s how Walt Whitman jogged the brain so he could keep generating writing ideas. Even Steve Jobs held walking meetings.
But now the science proves that taking a quick stroll reactivates the flow of blood to your brain.
Scientists at Liverpool’s John Moores University checked the blood flow of 15 active office workers in three phases: sitting for four periods of time, taking a break every half hour to walk 2 minutes, and walking on the treadmill for 8 minutes every 2 hours.
Scientists tracked the blood flow to their brains just before and during each walking break, as well as immediately after the four hours were over. They also rechecked people’s carbon dioxide levels during those times.
As they had expected, brain blood flow dropped when people sat for four continuous hours. The decline was small but noticeable by the end of the session.
It was equally apparent when people broke up their sitting after two hours, although blood flow rose during the actual walking break. It soon sank again, the ultrasound probes showed, and was lower at the end of that session than at its start.
But brain blood flow rose slightly when the four hours included frequent, two-minute walking breaks, the scientists found.
The results indicate that taking frequent short breaks is the best recommendation for sustaining a clear-thinking brain. So every half hour, take 2 minutes to hit up the bathroom, grab some water, circle around your desk, pretty much anything to get you out of your chair and your legs moving.
If you need a reminder or cue to get started, try the Pomodoro Technique or set your timer on an app like Focus@Will to ensure you’re getting the most out of your productivity when you’re sitting.
I must admit that taking breaks is hard, especially if you’re stuck on a conference call or forget that the ludic loop has kept you scrolling online for an hour. That’s when a foam cushion like this one comes in handy, along with the under the desk foot message. Sounds and maybe looks ridiculous but they work!
“To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person,Walt Whitman
manof fortune, idler, the same advice. Up!”
So jump around!