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If you’ve ever experienced that post lunch slump, or that energy sapping mid-afternoon meeting, chances are you may have sought refuge in another cup of coffee or snack to try and regain sufficient energy to get through the rest of your workday.

What might work even better though is somethings that you may not have contemplated, because at first it would appear counter intuitive, which is to go and do some exercise. Or at least go for a walk.

OPENspace research centre headed by Catherine Thompson from the University of Edinburgh has revealed how taking a walk in a green space can help reduce brain fatigue. Perhaps you’ve noticed this yourself if given the opportunity to escape outside the confines of the office or workspace. Being outside instantly makes you feel better. You notice the space, the air, the sounds, the people in your environment and especially if it’s a green place, it makes you feel calmer and in a better mood.

So next time you feel you need time out from your work, instead of reaching for the cookie jar and burrowing into Facebook for ten minutes, why not get outside and go for a walk to clear your head.

Of course the simple act of moving revs up your thinking capacity. Prolonged sitting at a desk slows down the function of our pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain we use for focused attention. Getting up and moving around restores that capacity.

Many people like to do their exercise before work: swimming, jogging, walking, running. This is a fantastic way to gear up your brain for better performance during the day and  boosts creative thinking.

Have you ever noticed how, it’s when you are out down at the beach or walking in the park that you experience some of your best ideas and problem solving moments?

Even if morning exercise is not your thing, getting out for a walk at lunch time or taking a couple of short walks mid morning and mid afternoon could make all the difference to your mental energy levels and productivity.

Of course adding a mindfulness component to your walk too, will give the added bonus of building greater awareness of your thoughts and being in the present moment.

Why not give it a go for a week and try it out?

Look for the closest bit of green space that you can access quickly and easily. It doesn’t have to be a huge park, just a small snippet of greenery, some trees or grass will do the trick. And schedule it in. Ten to twenty minutes EVERY day this week and see what difference it makes to your work day.
You might just be very pleasantly surprised in the outcome and make it a regular habit.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author. You can now pre-order her new book ‘The Natural Advantage’ due for publication in October 2024.

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