According to this Popular Science article, in a survey of middle-aged Australian men (over 60,000 of them), “those who sat for over four hours a day were significantly more likely to have a chronic disease like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.” There were six others ways “sitting can kill you” listed in the article, but really, who needs to go any further than that first one? For that reason, I think it’s time to remind everyone about the Lunch Break Hike.
A few years ago I wrote a blog post about hiking on your lunch break. Maybe you saw it and thought, “That’s a great idea! I should do that…” and then, well, you didn’t. Maybe you got busy at work and just grabbed a sandwich from the food truck out front. Maybe you forgot your hiking clothes. Maybe it was raining. Then time passed, and you forgot about the article and life got in the way and now, here it is, almost 3 years later and you still haven’t gotten out for the Lunch Break Hike. Well, this is what you’re missing:
This was my view a few weeks ago on a fall lunch break hike. I’ll admit: I’m more fortunate than a lot of folks when it comes to this sort of thing. I get an hour for lunch, and this set of trails is exactly 6 minutes from work. There’s a huge network of trails, so I have lots of options to choose from and can always get in 2-3 miles, depending on how fast I walk.
Look, I know it’s hard. It’s HARD to find time to exercise when you’ve got a million things going on in your day. But that lunch break? That one hour, or even half hour if that’s all you have, is a great time to recharge yourself, both physically and mentally.
According to groups like the Environmental Protection Agency, there are actual benefits to being outside in the fresh air and sunshine like:
- Boosting your immune system
- Fighting depression
- Aiding in digestion
- Improving your sleep
- Aiding in weight loss
Plus, let’s face it, when you work in an office environment, especially if you don’t have access to a window, getting outside just feels good! Yesterday I texted my hiking/biking buddy Adelle to see if she wanted to go hiking with me. She works from home and often gets so engrossed in her work that she forgets to get up for hours at a time. I knew she and the doggies, Autumn and Norbert, could use a hike! I mean really, who wouldn’t want to spend lunch time with this cutie?
So what do you need to keep with you at work in order to enjoy a lunch time hike (or walk around the block)? Well, I keep a gym bag or backpack at the ready with the following:
- a change of clothes for hiking (and clean undergarments for after your hike)
- dry shampoo
- a hairdryer during the summer for hot days
- extra makeup
- a packed lunch (which I obviously put in the fridge when I get to work)
- a small water bottle for hot days
- a phone or watch for keeping up with the time on your hike
- hiking shoes and socks
- a phone or camera for snapping pics to post on your Facebook page as inspiration for all your friends who couldn’t go on a lunch time hike
So look around! Is there a park nearby? Can you at least use something like mapmyrun.com to find a good walking route near work? Surely there’s a way to find time and resources to get outside on your lunch break.
Do it. Trust me–you won’t be sorry!