No, I haven't suddenly become a health or sports coach, but I do believe enormously in the benefits of walking. I use walking not only during coaching, but also in my daily life. Below you can read what walking does to you.
From a different place, the world looks different
When you change location while walking, you look at the world or a situation from different angles. Looking at the situation in a completely different way makes you realize that you can approach all situations in different ways. And that each approach can yield a different result.
Ok, I can hear you thinking: 'that does sound very easy'. For some it is easier than others, but let's do a little exercise.
Now move to your colleague's chair in your mind. Sit down and empathize with him or her. Think about their character, the way they talk, their current projects, etc. And then listen to your story in your mind. How does it resonate with the other person? Are you using words the other person also uses? Do you give examples of how your solution benefits the other person? Is it clear what you expect from him or her?
Now move back to your own chair and think about what you can adjust about your story so that you match their words, work and expectations. I bet your story is different now. And that with it, your colleague's reaction will also be different.
Next time, do this exercise before the meeting, so that you immediately come up with a story that better connects with your colleague.
Walking gives you peace of mind
Our brains are constantly burdened with streams of information, at work, at home via phones, etc. And we have very few moments of real rest. Concentration decreases and we are less able to perform more complicated thinking processes. You get rid of this pressure on the cognitive brain by walking. You regain peace and space in your head to fantasize and be creative. The hormone cortisol, which the body produces when it experiences stress, disappears. We are then able to look at things from a different angle. We are more relaxed, enthusiastic and confident. While you concentrate on the walk, your brain is working on a solution. As a result, you often get an inspiration while walking.
A walk is also a good tool for conversation. The well-known Dutch professor Erik Scherder says it like this: "While walking, you really get deeper conversations than normal. This is mainly due to the fasciculus uncinatus, a connection between your frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. You use it to navigate, but it also produces empathy. As a result, you will be more empathetic and develop a bond with others faster. Walking lends itself perfectly to having a difficult conversation. This is because you stimulate the prefrontal cortex, the place in your brain where reasoning and self-reflection occur. In addition, it acts as a nice brake on stress. You are therefore calm and will be less worked up when something doesn't suit you."
So if we go back to earlier example of the clash with a colleague during consultations. Instead of finding the person for a conversation at the desk, ask them to take a walk around the block. Then you are sure to have a much better conversation.
Walking in nature is even better
nature, the air is cleaner. The cleaner the air we breathe, the better our
brains function. Japanese research shows that the presence of trees and plants
provide good-quality air that further relaxes your mind. And beautiful views
increase oxytocin levels making you feel more love and connection.
Research shows that people who go hiking in a rural environment for four or more days scored up to 50 per cent higher on a test of their intellectual ability. Their creativity in particular was positively affected.
Walking in nature also has a positive impact on our emotional state. An article in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology showed that a walk in nature of just five minutes has impressive effects on our emotions. That short duration is all it takes to observe changes in self-esteem and self-worth. People who regularly take these kinds of walks are more confident and self-controlled
Now do you understand why I love hiking in the mountains?
Walking in nature is even better
But even when we are not walking, exercise plays a big role. I like to actively engage with topics. For example, by translating subjects into paper or images. I believe that you always get better results by moving!