Places that Work: Anywhere You Can Walk

Any environment that encourages walking is a place that works

Any environment that encourages walking is a place that works. We may be walking up or down stairs or to and from meeting rooms. It doesn’t matter why we’re walking, as long as we do. Interiors designed to encourage getting up and moving around may have open, central staircases that link floors together or cafeterias that are located within walking distance from workspaces. It is common knowledge that walking improves our physical health and our mental performance. Our species is programmed to remember things when we see them while navigating through a space, indoors or outdoors. In general, physical movement is good for our mental wellbeing too. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that walking to bathrooms, elevators, and similar facilities increases your likelihood of collaborating with those you encounter along the way; these researchers, in fact, like to talk about our need for “overlap in daily walking paths.”  Experiencing a stressful situation? Walking can help you relax and regain your perspective. So, remember, that any design that keeps us walking is design that makes our brains and bodies work better. Sitting in the best seat in the house may not be such a good idea, after all.

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a principal at Design with Science . She is also the editor of Research Design Connections and the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009). She can be reached at [email protected] This post is part of a series of Places that Work.

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