Why I Made Walking a Non-negotiable Part of My Job Description

Walking down a hazy, sunny beach. The benefits of walking.

I wrote it myself.

I run my own coaching business. No. of employees: just me. This means I get a pretty strong say in how things are run.

Despite being the sole employee, I decided to write a job description for myself. I set out some boundaries, but also kept things playful. I wanted to maintain a good work-life balance. Having the same days off as my partner (who works shifts) was important to me.

I’m also interested in longevity and I’m an avid rock climber. I train pretty hard 2 or 3 days on, then have 1 day off. My rest days still involve movement; some light stretching and walking for 30–90 minutes. My health and sporting performance are top priorities for me. I literally walk my talk — every day.

Knowing your priorities are essential for crafting the life that you want.

Idea generation

Like showering, I find that wandering around the woods provides many ideas. Entrepreneurs need ideas. Writers need ideas. Coming up with these is not enough. Recording them is key. For me, an idea I haven’t written down may as well not have happened.

I have Evernote or a mini notepad with me when I’m walking solo. I record ideas for growing my business, important tasks, and article headlines.

Generating ideas is the main reason I made walking part of my job. I usually go out after lunch. This provides an energizing break which improves my afternoon tasks.

The post prandial plod

I don’t always make it out walking during office hours. Sh*t happens. But, my partner and I love walking after dinner on long summer evenings.

This lightest of movements decreases levels of glucose and insulin in the blood. It is also a chance to decompress and reflect on the day. It’s another positive aspect of walking after lunch too.

“…the name of the game is glucose disposal. Can you maintain a low average level of glucose and a low variance of glucose and a low area under the curve of insulin?” — Dr. Peter Attia during an interview on the eight pillars of longevity.

Controlling blood sugar might be one of the best anti-aging measures available to us. Diet is the obvious upstream victory here. Movement, however, can decrease the spikes that occur after higher carbohydrate meals. It’s a foundation for improving lifespan and healthspan.

Honeycomb next to a jar of honey and spreader.
Photo by Danika Perkinson on Unsplash

Deep work

I find my productivity is at its highest when following the principles of deep work:

  • Identify my most important task
  • Vigilant single-tasking
  • Maintain a distraction-free environment
  • Schedule blocks of time in my calendar for “deep work”

To sustain high-quality work. I oscillate between periods of deep work and recovery. My work blocks are around 60–90 minutes. I then do something to recover. This may be something brief such as a few stretches and making a hot drink, or something longer later on in the day.

Walking is a rejuvenating longer break that pays dividends for my effectiveness. It is important for me to not reach for other inputs during my break. I use technology whilst working so I like to avoid it during breaks. That way I truly feel rejuvenated when I begin my next block of work.

Nature’s pill for mental health

Time spent in nature reduces stress and enhances mood. It may also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. People who feel connected to nature are generally happier!

Small amounts of sunlight also regulate our circadian rhythm, benefiting our sleep. In addition, our bodies can synthesize vitamin D.

Sleep is the foundation upon which the other pillars of health lie. It modulates the effectiveness of other interventions such as exercise and diet. Get your sleep right and everything else becomes easier.

Where is your nearest green space?

Walking down a hazy, sunny beach. Benefits of walking.
Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash

Accountability — when you don’t have a dog

Daily walks were easy for me when the family dog was itching to go on an adventure. If you are persuaded that regular walks are beneficial, how can do them regularly?

Can you schedule with a colleague during lunch? How about an entry in your calendar?

My routine; when the weather’s nice I go out after lunch or dinner. When it’s not, I put on a coat.

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