The New Habit Challenge: Take Daily Walking Breaks To Refocus

If you want to boost your productivity, focus, creativity, or sanity, you need to leave your desk and take a walk.

The New Habit Challenge: Take Daily Walking Breaks To Refocus
[Image: Flickr user Beverley Goodwin]

Editor’s Note: This story is part of 5 Habits Changes You Can Actually Make In 2015. Check out the full list here.


How much of your day do you think you spend sitting? 20%? 30%?

Research published in Diabetologia medical journal shows that the average adult spends 50% to 70% of his time sitting. Today we live in a world where most working professionals suffer from what the scientific community calls the sitting disease, and research shows that the longer you sit, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

In addition to staying healthy, there are so many other good reasons to get up and move around that this advice is hard to ignore.

For one thing, taking a lunch break away from your desk can boost your mood and prepare you for the afternoon ahead. And researchers from the University of Edinburgh say that taking a walk in the park–or any green space you can find in your area–can lessen your brain fatigue and frustration.

While you’re outside enjoying the greenery, you’ll more than likely be soaking up some sun as well–no matter the season or climate–which helps alleviate feelings of sluggishness and boosts productivity.

Looking for some creative inspiration? Scientists at Stanford suggest going for a walk–whether indoors or outdoors, in a green space or on a treadmill–to give your creativity a boost. Compared to sitting, they found any form of walking could increase creative thinking by about 60%.


“We’re not saying walking can turn you into Michelangelo,” said researcher Marily Oppezzo. “But it could help you at the beginning stages of creativity.”

It’s no secret that our energy slumps mid-morning and mid-afternoon (which is why it’s the best time to drink coffee). Research shows that getting up and taking a 15-minute walk at these times instead of checking Facebook can help you refocus.

For the next week I’ll put this new habit to the test by scheduling either a 20-minute lunchtime walk or two 15-minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon walks each day.

Challenge yourself to go for a walk at least once a day and tell us what you loved and hated about it, if it worked or totally bombed, and we may feature your response in an upcoming Fast Company story. Responses must be submitted to by end of day Thursday, August 28, 2014.

About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere.