There is a growing trend to get healthy and spend time away from desks, screens and all the distractions of modern day working life but are there benefits, beyond the obvious, to be had from walking meetings?
It is already a trendy topic among modern business leaders. Steve Jobs often engaged in walking meetings with his employees and the likes of Barack Obama and Richard Branson are also known to be big fans of the “walk and talk” philosophy.
In principle, it does what it says on the tin, it’s a meeting you have whilst you walk, but it's the associated benefits of this simple yet seemingly effective approach to meetings which are of most interest.
The smoking of our generation
All truly great thoughts are conceived whilst walking
In her TEDTalk ‘Got a meeting? Take a walk’, Nilofer Merchant likened sitting to “the smoking of our generation.” We are all aware that smoking is bad for us – indeed that it may dramatically shorten our lives, but the health risks of inactivity means a sedentary lifestyle or “sitting disease” as it’s now been coined by the scientific community is now one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.
According to the British Psychological Society the average office worker spends an astonishing 5.41 hours per day chained to their desk, so it’s no surprise that 64% of us are overweight.
Research carried out by Harvard Business Review found that people who participate in walking meetings are
5.25% more likely to report being creative in their jobs than those who do not.
Dr Ted Eytan, supports this evidence by explaining that our brains are more relaxed during walks due to the release of certain chemicals. This aids executive function, which governs how we focus on tasks and deal with unforeseen events, among other things.
Take the first step
Next time you’re planning a meeting I urge you to consider some of the benefits to be had from a walking meeting, here are 7 from business writer Peter Economy:
Walking meetings are more creative
Researchers at Stanford University found that the creative output of people increases by an average of 60 percent when they are walking. Indoor walks were found to be just as effective for boosting creativity as outdoor walks.
Walking meetings are better for you
Walking meetings get you out of your chair, they get you moving, and–if you take them outside of our building–they get you some much needed fresh air and sunlight.
Walking meetings tear down walls between management and workers
Says Western Union CEO, Hikmet Ersek–a big fan of walking meetings–“People become much more relaxed, and they talk from their hearts if you go for a walk with them.''
Walking meetings improve energy and engagement
According to Johnson & Johnson VP Jack Groppel, “In the studies that we did, after 90 days of doing walking meetings, people felt increased amounts of energy, they felt increased focus, they felt improved engagement.”
Walking meetings are better for communication
According to neuroscientist, Andrew Tate, the increased blood flow to your brain “… helps you express those ideas more fluently and helps you communicate with coworkers.”
Walking meetings outdoors make employees happier
Scientists at the UK’s University of Essex found that the mood and sense of well-being of people is boosted significantly with as little as 5 minutes of outdoor exercise.
Walking meetings could save your life
According to researchers, just 30 minutes of walking each day can lead to a dramatic reduction in the risk of dementia, breast and colon cancer, and heart disease.
It’s probably appropriate for me to say I should “walk the talk” as it were, and show my commitment to the cause. Whilst I don’t think it’s possible or practical to commit to walking meetings by default, I most certainly will be trading some of my meetings for walking meetings to get those creative juices flowing.