The Benefits of Walking and Coaching
We are often reminded of the benefits of exercise, which researchers continue to investigate. Some of these benefits include: positive mood states (Craft and Perna, 2004), lower levels of anxiety and depression (Stephens, 1988), and lowered risk of numerous chronic diseases (Blair and Morris, 2009). As indicated, the benefits are both physiological and psychological, and so exercise, it seems, is as good for the mind as it is the body.
Here at Zircon we embrace this in our unique approach to coaching which couples the benefits of exercise with those of coaching. An approach which has shown to be both effective and popular with our clients.
We believe that by taking the client out of the office environment the benefits of coaching are more readily and easily achieved. In particular, we advocate planned walks as an accessible means of incorporating exercise into a coaching session, and find that journeying through varied environments via walking can incite emotions, jog memories or enrich conversations which aids the client’s self-reflection and self-evaluation; all essential components of successful coaching (Fisher and Ashkanasy, 2000). By introducing a walk into our coaching sessions the client is given a welcome break from both the office environment, and also from the pressures of what can be quite emotionally charged coaching sessions.
The walk offers the client a sense of escapism, a new environment through which they can ponder over their experiences, and visualise their goals; this aids the understanding, elaboration and achieving of goals. Research has found walking with someone else helps to generate ideas and solve problems leading to deeper thoughts and more purposeful action (Kahneman, 2011). In addition, the mood boosting benefits of exercise are useful in overcoming challenges and reluctance to coaching sessions felt by clients, and in ensuring that clients leave the coaching session with a positive mind set and a zest with which they can apply the outcomes of the session.
“Walking as part of the coaching session, changes the focus and the mood, and I am able to process and understand some of the more difficult conversations more easily” Senior Leader, Aviation.
Walking outdoors can literally shed light upon an issue or brighten up a person (Amabile et al.,2005). It can provide a safer and more private space in which to discuss certain topics and encourage openness between coach and coachee (Turner, 2017). Alongside the physical aspect, this openness can promote lower levels of anxiety (Stephens, 1988). We find a typical office-located session can be complimented by as little as 10 -15 minutes paired walking which is in line with research that suggests around 20 minutes of exercise can reduce anxiety and depression (Scully et al.1998).
Our Directors Amanda and Sarah often book their coaching meetings in locations by rivers, the sea or in our wonderful parks. Amanda’s particular favorite locations for coaching are along the Sussex Coast and Kew Gardens, Sarah’s favorite is South Bank and Hyde Park.
For further inform about our coaching and walking opportunities please contact the Zircon office on: +44 (0)208 645 0222.