Hands up who thinks we are sitting way too much while working?
With COVID many of us are working from home and we are often missing that walk to work and the occasional use of the stairs to our next meeting. Many of us are sitting for over 10 hours at our desks in the office or at home with little or no movement.
Research has found that workers who remain inactive (or extended sitting) for over eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking, rather worrying statistics.
So how can we change this?
We can do this by introducing walking meetings. A walking meeting is simply a meeting that takes place during a walk instead of in your office or at your desk.
What are the benefits?
Did you know that recent research finds that the act of walking leads to increases in creative thinking? Plus there is plenty of evidence that suggest that walking meetings lead to more honest exchanges with your team and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings. One study found that employees who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not. Additionally, the study showed that walking meetings support cognitive engagement, or focus, on the job. Those who participate in walking meetings are 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement. The health benefits of doing a 30 minute walking meeting are increased cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones. Walking can reduce the risk of you developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.
Walking meetings are not breaks from work.
They are meetings that would have taken place regardless of whether they were held in someone’s office or while sitting at home on your screen. Dr Ted Eytan of Kaiser Permanente says that our brains are more relaxed during walks due to the release of certain chemicals. This aids our decision making function, which controls how we focus on tasks and deal with unforeseen events, among other things.
The best meetings for walking meetings are ones where you can discuss decisions you may need to make decisions or you are exploring possible solutions. A Harvard Review study showed that ‘participants holding managerial and professional positions experienced more of a creativity boost from walking meetings than those in technical or administrative type jobs (though all categories realized some benefits).’
‘When I was starting people would say we need to sit in front of a computer and discuss this thing. Well what I’ve actually learned is that the part about sitting in front of a computer is really assisted by organizing your thoughts. So if you really truly do need to see something that’s online or a piece of paper then what I would do is walk for about 30 minutes and organize our key takeaways and what the problem is that we’re trying to solve. Then when we get in front of the computer or in front of the papers we’ll have a more directed, focused view of what we’re trying to see and it works out just great. Everything you do in work is better when you can organize it in advance and it’s better to do it with the person right there.’ Dr Ted Eytan
So how do I start?
Plan your route
Do this needs in advance, consider whether the route have too many distractions or be too noisy.
Don’t surprises your colleague or boss with a walking meeting
If you are meeting up agree it in advance and encourage them to wear appropriate footwear ensure to give them prior notice.
How many people?
It is best to stick to one on one. When working from home especially in social distancing times you can pop your headphones in and talk on the phone while you walk.
Agree what you will discuss.
Ensure what you are discussing is appropriate so discussing an idea or goal or knowing each other better. It is best to leave formal or sensitive meetings to a private office.
To capture the outputs from your meeting you can make voice notes which automatically transcribe on your phone for follow up after the meeting is over. You then don’t have to type anything up.
Your biggest challenge will be to encourage more colleagues to do this type of meeting, Share the benefits of the approach not only the health but the benefits that this type of meeting brings. Of course if you agree as a team to commit to it becomes all the easier.
Data shows that those who participate in walking meetings, are more satisfied at their jobs than their colleagues who don’t.
Hopefully the above has set out a good case to be made for walking for you and your teams health benefits.
Why don’t you give it a try?
Ciara M. B. Moore 11/11/21
Ready for a walking meeting