Looking to cool down work stress? Take a hike.

By Abigail Miller • Published: August 16th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Many people who are stressed at work find it impossible to leave their frustrations at their front door. This can lead to tension at home, which means more stress, and the vicious cycle rolls on, getting worse each miserable day.

Researchers say there is a solution so easy you probably learned it in kindergarten. Taking a brisk walk — think of it as recess — or a catnap can help you find a healthier work-life balance.

A new study by researchers at the University of Central Florida and researchers from Illinois and Wisconsin adds to previous findings about the health benefits of exercise by identifying just how much is needed to achieve meaningful behavioral results. In findings published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, participants who took 10,900 steps each day were less likely to lash out at home than those who took only 7,000 steps. For a 195-pound man, that’s the equivalent of a 90-minute walk or an hourlong swim, and it would burn about 600 calories.

Physical activity also balances poor sleep by promoting healthy brain functions needed to regulate emotions and behavior. Plus, being tired can help you fall asleep more easily. Studies have shown time and again that a good night’s sleep can do everything from increasing creativity to helping you live longer. It has also been found to lead to an increased attention span, which, in turn, can improve work performance and reduce stress.

For those who say they are too busy for a nap or a stroll at work, the researchers suggested that they look at it as an investment in themselves rather than one more item on a lengthy to-do list. And remember, it doesn’t just help you — it’s good for your partner, too.