White-Collar Employees Accept Walking Meetings: Study

One key goal of any effective workplace wellness program is to help employees avoid sitting too long at the office. One tactic to accomplish that, of course, is a walking meeting. But will office workers accept a walking meeting?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a study looking into the question, titled “Opportunities for Increased Physical Activity in the Workplace: the Walking Meeting (WaM) Pilot Study, Miami, 2015.” As the study states: “Despite the positive impact walking has on human health, few opportunities exist for workers with largely sedentary jobs to increase physical activity while at work. The objective of this pilot study was to examine the implementation, feasibility, and acceptability of using a Walking Meeting (WaM) protocol to increase the level of work-related physical activity among a group of sedentary white-collar workers.”

While the study was small, the results were clear:

“Traditional seated meetings that were converted into a walking format using the WaM protocol increased moderate, vigorous, and very vigorous PA levels by 10 minutes among our sample of white-collar workers. Many jobs in the white-collar workforce involve a disproportionate amount of sitting time, which can increase the risk for being overweight or obese. Although several interventions have aimed to increase PA levels in the workplace (eg, by using stability balls instead of chairs and sit–stand work stations instead of traditional desks), the scientific literature consists of either low-quality evidence or equivocal results on the effect of these interventions. Data from this pilot study suggest that walking meetings might provide an alternative to the sedentary workdays of white-collar workers.”

“Focus groups suggest that the WaM protocol was feasible, accepted, and successfully implemented by study participants. Among the 8 participating groups, 7 completed both walking meetings. These findings are in contrast with those of Cooper et al, who found that university employees who reported a lack of time for PA and perceived that fitness facilities at work were expensive did not engage in PA. We found that walking meetings were accepted and implemented by white-collar university employees in this pilot study and that these workers could easily fit a walking meeting into the workday with little to no burden to their workflow.”

A challenge for workplace wellness leaders can be finding ways to implement walking meetings into a company’s standard operating procedures.

The CBC reports: “Some Canadian university campusesoccupational therapists and wellness programs also encourage walking meetings.”

“Allana LeBlanc is a knowledge manager and exercise physiologist at Participaction in Toronto who has blogged about the productivity and creative benefits of walking meetings.”

“‘It’s starting to shift a little bit now but we what we think of productive is you have to be tied to your desk,’ LeBlanc said. ‘We’re learning more and more how bad this is for many different areas of health. You’re not getting enough activity. You’re really sedentary. You almost get in this unproductive state.'”