No matter how much walking you do as a server & how tired your feet ache at the end of a shift, your body still needs aerobic workout sessions–structured time set aside specifically for this.

This article was inspired by a restaurant server who was moving quickly between up to seven tables at once because her boss understaffed for that day, yet she needs cardio exercise as much as the next person.

Though restaurant servers log a lot of steps on a busy day, and in the case of this particular woman, they were fast steps as she continuously zipped all over the place to handle up to seven tables at once, they are not exempt from the need for structured cardio exercise.

There are several excellent reasons why a busy restaurant server needs to set special time aside for cardio workouts.

Walking on the job is not progressive.

This means that the walking never gets faster and there are no inclines introduced to increase intensity.

The floor is always flat, and the server can move only so fast on the job, especially while holding plates of food and drink. There is a limit imposed by the environment, not the server’s fitness level.

Cardio exercise should be progressive: When the body starts adapting, you move faster and/or add an incline.

If you’re on a flat course, you add jogging when brisk walking is no longer taxing.

In the case of this woman, I could clearly see that her body was very well-adapted to all the fast walking she was doing. She wasn’t the least bit winded or fatigued-looking.

Her body was very efficient at this task. She was in a maintenance state because her environment prevented an increase in intensity.

Her speed was limited to around 4 mph (as a treadmill fiend and trainer, I am very good at estimating walking speeds).

Because she was on the job, she couldn’t add leaps and jumps, though she DID add an occasional three-stride jog.

All the rushed walking that a restaurant server does comes with high stress.

Though this woman was adept and personable, I guarantee it, she was feeling some very serious stress. She was the only server there; her boss made a mistake.

Can you imagine the stress of having to keep seven, or even five, tables of people happy?

This included two parties outside, adding extra time to her walking. There was no busser, either, so she had to clear the tables.

For cardio exercise to have optimal benefits, it should not be accompanied with mental stress.

In fact, structured cardio exercise sessions will de-stress you and mellow you out.

A restaurant server’s walking is repeatedly interrupted with stops. 

For steady state cardio to be effective it must be continuous, not stop and go.

The stop-and-go approach will not impede results if one is doing high intensity interval training (HIIT).

But walking 4 mph on a level course was not HIIT for this very able bodied server.

A restaurant server may feel exhausted at the end of the shift, with aching feet, but this is all the more reason to incorporate regular, structured cardio exercise!

I wouldn’t be surprised if this woman did gym cardio sessions several times a week.

If you’re a restaurant server who feels you do not need to do cardio exercise, you need to rethink this one.

Consistent sessions on cardio equipment, in a class, or jogging in the neighborhood will make all your walking on the job much less draining. In fact, high intensity interval training will, over time, dramatically improve your stamina on the job.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: ©Lorra Garrick