October 20, 2016

Walking at Work

Walking at work has many benefits, and UAMS, has no shortage of pathways and stairwells to use. We interviewed three employees who use their breaks for a little walk:

  • Paige Brumley, executive assistant III from Institutional Relations
  • Amanda May, director of annual giving from Institutional Advancement
  • Tara Austin, executive assistant IV from the Chancellor’s Office

When you first started walking on breaks, how did you feel after returning to work?

Tara: Sadly the stairs have not gotten easier! But walking makes me feel more energized and ready to work.  Walking is more of a given now.  In the beginning I felt bad leaving my desk and now I look forward to it.  I have the support of my two supervisors, and they encourage me to go if they notice I haven’t.

Amanda: From day one, I felt more energized after returning from a walk. My mind always feels fresh and ready to take on the next task.

Paige: It wakes me up and gives me a clearer mind. The one thing I notice the most is when I walk during the day it makes my evenings run smoother. It gives me a jolt so I’m not worn out when I get home. I can get stuff done, do activities with my family and be more productive.

Do you feel more productive?
Tara: Yes!

Amanda: Definitely! Several times I’ve returned from a walk with a new idea or way of handling something simply from just giving my mind a break … even though I wasn’t even thinking about work. The walk and conversation with a friend and coworker do make me feel productive.

Paige: Yes! When I’m working straight through the day without a break I have to force myself to focus harder on what I’m doing. The break allows my brain to stop “thinking” and just relax for a moment.

If you miss a walking break, do you miss the break time? 

Tara: Yes if I take a break it is to walk. Otherwise I sit at my desk.

Amanda: I never really took breaks from my desk before we started walking. If we aren’t walking, we are working. I definitely miss that break and sometimes even notice a difference in my mood that afternoon.

Paige: If I don’t take my walking break it becomes a monotonous day. I have a bad attitude and am ready to crash when I get home.

What would be your advice to someone who is just starting out?

Tara: Add it to your calendar with a reminder every weekday, twice a day.  It helps to get started and remember to do it!

Amanda: Set a reminder or even post a note for yourself to help remind you to get up once in a while. Use something to track your steps throughout the day and try to challenge yourself to more steps each week. We use the free app on our phones to track our steps, mileage and even the number of stairs we’ve climbed. Like Tara said, the stairs never get easier, but we keep pushing ourselves!

Paige: Make time to do it. What is it really going to hurt, even if you get up for just five minutes and walk? We all need the break. Find a podcast you like and listen to it. Spend some time being thankful for what you have. Start with short walks, skip the hills and stairs, and gradually increase your speed and distance. It will change your outlook on the rest of the day.

Has the recent weather change altered your pathway more outdoors? 

Tara: Yes, we walk outside more on the cooler days.

Amanda: If the weather is nice, we look for the nearest exit and take our walks outdoors. If the weather is really nice, we make the route up as we go just to stay outside as much as possible.

Paige: Yes, I love being outdoors. The fresh air is a wonderful change!

 What is your favorite route here at UAMS? 

Tara: We go from the Central Building to the Cancer Institute, down the stairs to first floor, up the stairs near the gift shop to fourth floor, to the Outpatient Center, down the hall to the Lobby Café, to PRI, and then outside to EDII. We circle the ground floor of EDII for a few laps before heading back to the Central Building.  Or we go to the College of Public Health and EDII where we walk up the stairs to the top level for a few laps.  Amanda: We have several routes we take, but always try to incorporate stairs at some point during the walk.

Amanda: We have several routes we take, but always try to incorporate stairs at some point during the walk.

Paige: I start out at the fountain and then cross over to the Admin West building, take the stairs to the area behind the residence hall, down to Markham and then right to Cedar. Take Cedar up to the Cancer Institute and back to the hospital. It’s a little more than a mile, so at the end of the day I have done two miles and can focus on weights when I’m at the gym.

How has walking at break time helped you?

Tara: Walking twice a day when I can really help clear my head and gives me a chance to forget about work and talk about my kids or things going on at home.  It is important to take a few minutes for yourself to de-stress.  Don’t feel guilty, just do it!

Amanda: As busy moms who work full time, we have all felt the challenge of finding some time to be active. Often times our mornings and evenings at home are just as busy as our time in the office. Using our breaks as a time to step away, visit about life, and even be a little active has been so energizing. I believe I’m better as a result of our walks … healthier, more productive, and even a better spouse and mom.

Paige: Taking a break to walk has not only helped me physically but mentally. During the day your mind is running nonstop, but just taking 10 or 15 minutes to get out and enjoy the scenery is refreshing. We have a beautiful campus and walking it is the highlight of my work day. Even if at the end of the day I don’t make it to the gym, I don’t feel as bad knowing I was able to get a mile or two in at the office.