As it’s National Walking Month I’ve been reading up on the health benefits that walking can bring to the over 40’s.
When my dog arrived 5 years ago, his jest for exercise threw me into a morning schedule, which I very quickly grew to love. A brisk 45-minute walk through the woods or down by the river really stimulated my thought processes and the seeds of many a good idea have been sown during my morning workout.
Walking can be a solitary experience or a social event, and as a form of exercise, is much kinder on the joints than say jogging or weight-based gym workouts. It was no surprise to read then that just 30 minutes of walking a day can help prevent certain cancers, strengthen bones, improve mental well-being and reduce the risk of both dementia and Type 2 diabetes. What I didn’t know was that there’s a relatively new trend out there that provides a way to get fit during the day whilst working and it’s called The Walking Meeting.
I think the Walking Meeting is such a great idea and the British Psychological Society (BPS) would probably agree because according to the BPS, the average office worker spends an astonishing 5.41 hours per day sitting.
Unfortunately, an email-loaded, meeting-heavy culture drives a sedentary trend and in some quarters the ritual of sitting is being branded the smoking of this generation.
Swapping just one 30 minute meeting in the office for a walk in the fresh air immediately gives employees 2.5 hours of exercise per week and lots of other benefits besides. Walking in the fresh air helps ideas flow more freely and walking and talking side by side can cut through hierarchical and status distinctions and sets people at ease. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that walking meetings enhance team and relationship building but can also lead to more honest exchanges with employees and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings.
If you’d like to introduce the Walking Meeting into your company (and maybe gain some extra brownie points too!) then here are some tips:
- Plan your route in advance so you know it will take around 30 minutes.
- Plan your time of day – Afternoon walks can help revive dwindling energy levels, so the after-lunch slot is a good one!
- Tell those involved in the meeting to bring in comfortable shoes.
- Keep the meeting group small – one-to-ones are ideal, but no more than 3 so they can easily walk side by side.
- Use the voice recorder on your Smart Phone to take notes.
- Promise a coffee at the end of the meeting to help bring the less enthusiastic members of the team on board!
If you decide to set up a Walking Meeting then you’re in good company, broadcaster and journalist Clare Balding literally walks for work in her radio programme “Ramblings’’ where she joins notable and interesting people for a walk through the countryside. Clare is now a keen walker in her own time and covers some 5 miles a day with her dog. She likes to keep up a pace of 4mph, which is pretty impressive! Maybe I should add a seventh tip to my list and advise that you set a pace that the entire group can keep up with!