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Supercharge your Lunchtime Walk

5 ways to supercharge your lunchtime walk
Brisk walking can improve everything from your fitness levels to your creativity. Health writer Lucy Fry reveals how you can max your steps and reap the benefits in your working day.

When was the last time you swapped the boardroom for the local park? Or even went for a walk in your lunch break? New research from the NHS has shown that just 10 minutes of daily brisk walking can reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also work wonders for your mental health – improving self-esteem and mood, according to walking initiative The Ramblers .

With May being National Walking Month, it’s the perfect excuse to fit in a stroll today. Here’s how to increase your steps and feel more energised as a result…
  • Swap the board meeting for a walking meeting
    We spend around 16 hours per week sitting in meetings, according to a new survey by . Break out of the habit and suggest you walk and talk instead – the change of scene and cardio boost can stimulate creative thinking and help you connect with your colleagues on a more personal level. This could lead to faster decisions and more insightful ideas. Try it mid-morning or late afternoon to inject a burst of energy.
  • Try walking meditation
    Use your lunchtime walk as a chance to escape your desk, ditch your phone and spend some time just focusing on you. Whether you’re stressed about a deadline, trying to solve a problem or just feeling restless in the office, try listening to a guided meditation while you walk, such as Headspace’s new mindful walking podcast. You’ll up your step count, come back feeling refreshed and increase your Vitality points as a result (earning points using the Headspace, Calm and Buddhify mindfulness apps will be available soon!).
  • Meet your friend for a walking catch up
    Meeting a friend or colleague at lunch is a great way to break up the day, but instead of defaulting to the local pub or café, suggest the park or a nearby green space – not only does it cost nothing but being outside is also an easy way to increase your levels of vitamin D, which can help to improve our immune system and lift our mood.
  • Turn your walk into a workout
    You can easily make your walk more of a cardio session by getting your heart rate up. Go in search of steps to climb, hills to conquer or simply try upping the pace. I'd suggest walking fast for 30 seconds at a time with a 1-2-minute break in-between each burst, depending on your fitness levels, says fitness expert Matt Fiddes . The intensity will stimulate the natural production of growth hormones and adrenaline, which are both natural fat burners. For an extra push, look for park benches, ledges or walls and try a couple of easy body weight exercises such as step-ups or push-ups.
    You could even invest in a Fitbit or Garmin heart rate monitor, which will help you push further and faster through tracking your progress.
  • Set up a step challenge with your colleagues
    A recent study found that friends who competed to win points using an exercise app or tally chart not only walked more (adding around an extra mile a day to their step count) but also hit their fitness goals more often. Whether you set up your own challenge with colleagues at work to achieve a group goal such as a sponsored walk or half marathon, you're more likely to achieve more when you do it together.