Walking during work day helps employees feel healthier, happier
Jan. 28, 2015
When the Cole Fitness Center opened on the IU Kokomo campus in the fall of 2013, it sparked something in IU Kokomo co-workers Jessica Henderson and Joyce Webb.
The Division of Allied Health Sciences employees became walking partners and in just over a year have tracked hundreds of miles on the center’s track.
“I thought, ‘Now there is no excuse not to walk,’” said Henderson, assistant professor of health sciences. “We didn’t have a goal of walking over 2,000 laps from day one. But walking turned out to be fun, and it snowballed from there.”
Every day at break time, when a lot of people grab a cup of coffee or a snack from the vending machine, Henderson and Webb head to the fitness center where they walk 12 laps per day. Those laps have added up to more than 225 miles walked so far.
Since they started their routine, Henderson and Webb said they feel “healthier and happier” and are more productive throughout the day.
“We encourage each other,” said Webb, an administrative secretary. “When one of us doesn’t particularly want to walk, the other one does. It is a time for us to talk -- about family/work/personal issues/joys/fears. We have discovered we ‘need’ this for our mental health; it is our daily therapy."
The mental clarity that comes with a quick walk around the track has also proved beneficial to Henderson’s work. Once the walk is over, Henderson said she feels more energized and invigorated.
“During the walk, we often think out loud to solve problems/challenges of the work day and bounce ideas off each other,” she said. “The juices start flowing in the brain. Instead of having coffee/snack, we walk, and that never fails to get me out of my ‘brain fog.’ After the walk, I come back to my desk refreshed and fired up.”
While Henderson and Webb have been successful in their efforts, they admit it has taken a little hard work and a lot of commitment.
“It does take a conscientious effort to schedule a walk into the workday,” Henderson said. “We combine the walk with our break time, and we often discuss work issues while walking, so we can do both at the same time. And we have a supportive chair, John Hughey, who walks with us once in a while.”
But that hard work has paid off. Not only do the daily walks provide a chance to exercise and clear their heads, they also have cemented a close friendship between Henderson and Webb, one they have both come to cherish. They provide each other the encouragement and motivation to strap those tennis shoes on every day and hit the track.
“Joyce and I keep each other on track, literally,” Henderson said. “When I don’t feel like it, Joyce says ‘Let’s go,’ and vice versa. Now that it’s been over a year since we started walking, it is a daily habit that we just do without thinking too much about.”
Free access: IU employees who do not wish to walk outside can take advantage of free access to indoor tracks. Seven IU campuses currently offer free access to indoor tracks. Availability is determined by each campus and facility.