A study released this week by our friends at the Nature Conservancy links poor health with too much time indoors. Among the findings: 90% of people believe being in nature has a positive effect on their mental and physical health, but just 40% of people spend 1-2 days in nature each week. Approximately 10% of people spend no time in nature at all.
These results should not surprise us. Countless research studies demonstrate the benefits to employees and their productivity when they are in the natural environment and/or getting physical exercise. Dr. John Medina, one of the world’s leading brain researchers and someone we work with frequently, provides an interesting theory as to why.
In his book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, Dr. Medina explains that early humans, constantly moving to find food, were alert and learning as they walked up to 12 miles a day. While modern life allows us to spend less time looking for nourishment, Dr. Medina's research finds that our brains still function best when actively engaging major muscles. Unfortunately, very few jobs require movement. Instead, most of us spend eight hours per day sitting, many of those in front of a computer.
So it's safe to say if we want to be most productive and creative, we need to get up and move around. So how can the design of a space encourage movement? While efficiency is always a key characteristic of any workplace environment (how long does it really take to walk to the coffee machine?), a little inefficiency can go a long way to encourage people to be more active. Here are four ways:
1. Encourage Use of Stairs
2. Specify Standing or Treadmill Desks
3. Take Meetings Outside
4. Install Environmental Graphics
You can learn more about each of these design tips by clicking through the slideshow above. You can also check out the links to the right for more information.