How to Make the Logistics of Walking Meetings Work

We have written frequently about the benefits of walking meetings as a way to increase movement — and even improve a culture of health — in the workplace (for example here, here and here).

The benefits of walking were addressed as well by Afekwo Mbonu, Master of Public Health (MPH) Candidate at Lakehead University: ” Research from David Dunstan’s lab in Australia suggests that frequent light-intensity walk-breaks can greatly reduce the metabolic impact of prolonged sitting.  Pronk and colleagues have also reported that the use of a sit-stand device which reduced overall sedentary time by 16.1% per day, significantly improved participants’ moods (i.e., fatigue, confusion, depression and total mood disturbance) and related health outcomes (i.e., upper back and neck pain) compared to baseline, or periods where the sit-stand devices were not available.”

Mbonu further notes that “Walking meetings can be an effective way of breaking-up prolonged sitting without disrupting workplace productivity. Evidence suggests that reducing sitting bouts during the work day is achievable and such changes do not necessarily disrupt workplace performance.”

But one challenge for many workplaces is logistics — literally, how to make walking meetings work. One answer is to create Walking Meeting Paths. Mbonu describes the approach by The HALO group at CHEO’s Research Institute:

“A total of 12 mapped out routes were created as walking meeting rooms ranging in time from 15-60 minutes in duration (1-5 km). These were organized through Microsoft Outlook public folders and set up so that all hospital and research institute staff are able to book a walking meeting room– importantly the walking meeting rooms are never unavailable or “booked” as they can hold multiple simultaneous meetings. In a work setting where booking meeting rooms is always a challenge, the use of walking meeting rooms at CHEO has also reduced the pressure to the find adequate space for all scheduled meetings.”

And while some may cite objections to walking meetings, Mbonu notes how “most can be overcome with some foresight and planning. Such concerns may be the inability to take notes, or access the Internet; however, with the advent of smartphones and tablets, many programs can record conversations, search the Internet, and capture the ideas of any creative mind while in motion.”