Do you struggle to stay awake at your desk post lunch? Or get home from work and immediately collapse on the couch? Visiting a park at lunchtime could be the key to beating the afternoon blah’s, recent studies suggest. A brisk walk while focusing on nature instead of work kept study participants more productive in the afternoon. The period between three and four pm is generally considered the least productive hour of the day on average.
Experiencing nature also lowered participants’ stress levels. Simply listening to a recording of nature sounds was beneficial, although participants who enjoyed a park or forest firsthand enjoyed greater reduction of stress than those who listened to the recordings.
What happens when you visit a park during lunch? Such walks are officially called ‘recovery breaks’ and have the most effect when you use them to detach completely from work. If you think your day’s too busy to pop out to a park, consider that your productivity in the afternoon could increase even after just a 15-minute recovery break. The study’s authors initially thought the recovery break would take several hours to have an effect. However, they discovered that participants who spent time outdoors at lunch showed improved productivity and reduced stress before their workdays were even over. The energy boost was most pronounced an hour or so before the participants left work, a time of day when most people are feeling sluggish and rundown.
In the study, half the participants walked in the park and half did relaxation exercises in a quiet place in their office building. Can you guess who got the most benefit? That’s right – the park walkers! We invite you to enjoy your lunch break in any of our 21 parks. A quick stroll around a pond or on one of our many walking trails could be the key to heading back to work and then heading home for the evening without feeling drained and tired.
MacMillan, Amanda. “Here’s How to Be Less Tired After Work.” Time, April 5, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.
MacMillan, Amanda. “Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science.” Health, April 5, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.
Marjaana Sianoja et al. “Enhancing daily well-being at work through lunchtime park walks and relaxation exercises: Recovery experiences as mediators.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.