Business Strategy: Are walking meetings the next big thing?

Walking meetings are important to facilitating healthier, more creative and better performing employees, according to research



Walking meetings have already been found to increase creative thinking, lead to more honest discussions with colleagues, and result in more productivity than sit- down meetings.

Now, further research indicates that turning one seated meeting a week at work into a walking meeting increased the work-related physical activity levels of white-collar workers by 10 minutes.

The study, from the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Florida, argued that walking meetings are a new health promotion approach to improving the health of white-collar workers who spend most of their time sitting.

"There are limited opportunities for physical activity at work,” said the study's principal investigator, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, assistant professor of public health sciences.

“This walking meeting pilot study provides early evidence that white-collar workers find it feasible and acceptable to convert a traditional seated meeting into a walking meeting.

"Physical activity interventions such as the walking meeting protocol that encourage walking and raise levels of physical activity in the workplace are needed to counter the negative health effects of sedentary behaviour."

Participants in the study were white-collar workers who wore accelerometers to measure physical activity levels during the workday over three weeks.

They also followed a "walking meeting protocol" that included guidance for leading meetings and taking notes while walking.

The average combined moderate/vigorous physical activity reported by participants increased from 107 minutes in the first week to 114 minutes in the second week and to 117 minutes in the third week.

"Walking is known to have tremendous health benefits," said lead author Hannah Kling, the study's project director and a graduate of UM's Department of Public Health Sciences.

"Having sedentary, white-collar workers consider walking meetings feasible suggests that this intervention has the potential to positively influence the health of many individuals."

The following is a summary of the seven-point walking meeting protocol, as outlined by the researchers:
  1. Make a time and place to meet before the walking meeting
  2. Organise an agenda and bring it
  3. Bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and wear comfy shoes
  4. Give people roles: eg, one person watches the time, one takes notes, one leads the route
  5. Follow the planned walk route
  6. Walk for at least 30 minutes
  7. Following the walk, sit down and do any final tasks such as paperwork (that cannot be done while walking).
The study is published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

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