If you had to choose between walking and napping to re-energize, which should it be? Forget the power nap; do the power WALK. Everything points to the walking.
As a certified personal trainer I can definitely vouch for the benefits of walking as far as rejuvenating someone out of a mid-afternoon slump.
However, according to webmd.com, too much sleep is linked to serious disease.
But let’s take a common-sense approach to the choice of walking vs. napping. You feel lethargic and sluggish, and maybe drowsy, as lunchtime at work approaches. You decide to forego eating and just nap at your desk for 45 minutes.
Your twin in a parallel universe feels the same way but decides to take a brisk walk outdoors.
You nap for 45 minutes, and for much of that you are asleep, and your timer awakens you. How do you feel?
I once worked a job where a man named Steve almost always used lunch time to nap at his desk, arms folded atop it, head buried in arms.
At the end of lunchtime he looked drained and groggy, not re-energized and perky.
Listless employees who had spent some of their lunch break walking outside always returned appearing refreshed.
So how do you feel after that 45 minute nap? More rejuvenated than your twin who walked for that time?
The walker’s heart will become elevated and pump more blood throughout the body.
The napper’s heart rate and metabolism will slow down. The body will stiffen, being still for 45 minutes, whereas walking will loosen up joints and muscles. Quite literally, walking will wake you up. Napping will put you to sleep.
After a walk you feel more ready to jump through some hoops. After a nap, that’s the last thing you want to think about.
With napping, some people get carried away. One 45 minute nap a day becomes two 45 minute naps, or one 60 minute nap. And then that gets longer.
On days off the person may end up napping two hours in the middle of the day despite sleeping overnight for eight hours.
Two hours then becomes three. When this person retires, he might by then have developed such a strong napping habit that he sleeps 2-3 hours every afternoon or early evening, despite averaging eight hours of sleep per night.
Too much sleep, and napping gets included in this, is linked to heart disease, diabetes and increased mortality.
However, it should be noted that low socioeconomic status and depression are tied to excess sleep, and these two variables can lead to a disease state and increased risk of death.
Heart disease and diabetes can cause oversleeping.
Researchers do not know which came first here, the chicken or the egg.
However, excess sleep is tied to obesity, even when exercise habits and food intake are adjusted for.
This is easier to understand, as sleeping burns minimal calories, and that time instead can be spent working out, including walking.
Other conditions can cause a “need” to take excessive naps, including sleep apnea, low thyroid and side effects of prescription drugs.
If you can’t get through the day or evening without a nap, it’s important to see a doctor for a thorough checkup.
However, it could also be that you’re just plain out of shape and you’ve “trained” your body to expect lengthy naps every day.
Replace some of that napping with a brisk 45 minute walk and see what happens.
Steve ate junk food throughout the day, which included prior to lunch time, and though he enjoyed recreational rock climbing, his physique indicated he wasn’t exactly in prime physical condition.
Excess refined carbohydrates in combination with an unfit body are a sure bet for fatigue and sleepiness come lunch time.
When it comes to napping vs. walking, only one of these improves cardiorespiratory function, bone health, lowers blood pressure and keeps the body from getting stiff. And you know which that is.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.