Mindful Walk-And-Talk Meetings

From status updates to problem-solving sessions, millions of American workers are wasting away their workday with constant meetings. They could be wasting away their health as well. Fortunately, a new study found a perfect solution: walking meetings.

The television show The West Wing is infamous for its walk-and-talk meetings.

While your department’s weekly update meeting may not be as eventful or entertaining as The West Wing, they can be just as invigorating.

Researchers from the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine studied what would happen if white-collar workers turned one of their weekly seated meetings into walk-and-talk meetings. The researchers found that it increased their “work-related physical activity levels” by 10 minutes. This may not sound like much, but it’s truly invaluable to your daily health.

Experts suggest that everyone get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, but this can be hard to achieve when your daily schedule is packed with personal and work-related responsibilities. Squeezing in some exercise time at work would be ideal; unfortunately, most American workers are either stuck in a cubicle for most of their workday (without access to treadmill desks) or can’t spare the time. This is why walking meetings are such a great opportunity. Interested in starting walk-and-talk meetings for you and your coworkers?

Three mindful tips to start your walking meetings:

Present the facts

Is your boss skeptical about walking meetings? Eliminate their fear with a few facts. According to Harvard Business Review research and a Bain survey, 15 percent of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings, which is a lot of time considering that senior executives rate more than half of meetings as “ineffective” or “very ineffective.” The Harvard study also found that many meetings are dysfunctional and a growing number of participants are distracted. In the study, 22 percent of participants sent three or more emails during a typical 30-minute meeting. Walk-and-talks, on the other hand, get the brainwaves flowing and clear away the cobwebs, which can make for more engaging and productive meetings.

Consider the logistics

Obviously, not every type of meeting will be suitable for walk-and-talks. Meetings with a large number of participants or meetings with visual presentations wouldn’t work for walking meetings. Instead, use the walking sessions for one-on-one interactions or small group discussions. Be sure that everyone has comfortable shoes and suitable clothing. It may also help to map out a route beforehand.

Schedule walk-and-talk meetings often

To truly reap the health benefits of these walking meetings it’s important that you have them as often as possible. A study from Taiwan found that moderate exercise, such as brisk walks, for 15 minutes a day can extend a person’s lifespan by three years. So, consider scheduling a few walk-and-talk meetings per week. These meetings will alleviate the boredom and boost your health.