I came across the below video this past week, and thought it would be worth sharing here on the blog. In it, Nilofer Merchant explains how she has converted all of her meetings to walking meetings, as one way to reduce her sedentary behaviour and increase her level of physical activity. I’m not sure where she’s getting her stats (or why she refers to her butt as a piece of technology), but the point is that walking meetings can be a very easy way to improve the healthiness of a sedentary work environment.
On this note, I’d like to give a shout out to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, which actually includes a number of walking routes in its Outlook meeting calendar. This allows staff to “book” outdoor walking routes for meetings, rather than using a conference room. If you’re into something a bit more vigorous, physical activity researcher Angelo Tremblay is well known for having running meetings with his students. The point is that active meetings are much easier than you’d think, and as Nilofer explains in a recent Six Pixels of Separation podcast, there are other benefits to such meetings than just increased physical activity (they are more informal, they can help people think a bit by getting them out of their stuffy cubical, etc).
I’ve done a number of waking meetings in the past few years, and they work exceptionally well for small groups of 2-4 people. Beyond that it gets hard for everyone to hear each other (during one large group meeting, a colleague actually got her hair caught on a tree while distracted by the conversation… that sort of thing is easier to avoid with a smaller group). You might also be surprised at how easy it is to get by without typing notes as you go, as Nilofer explains in the above podcast.
I know that walking meetings aren’t ideal for all workplaces. But if you spend a lot of time sitting at work, this is one simple way to increase your activity and reduce your sedentary time.