Walking Meetings: A New Kind of Conference Room

By Lisa Christie
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Who doesn’t love to kill two birds with one stone? The best bird-killing idea I’ve heard all week came from a TED Talk (see video below) and I knew immediately I needed to share it on the blog.

Business innovator Nilofer Merchant discusses on the TED stage the benefits of doing walking meetings. Yes, getting out of conference rooms and from behind our desks – away from the water coolers – and actually walking and talking with our colleagues.

Maybe this isn’t a novel idea, but it struck me as genius. Not only can I get a meeting done, but I can get my exercise in, too?

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

In case you hadn’t heard, some experts say that sitting is the new smoking. Well, maybe not as socially unacceptable as smoking, but equally addicting and possibly as dangerous.

According to Nilofer, people spend 9.3 hours per day on their butts, eclipsing  the 7.7 hours they spend sleeping. Their sedentary lifestyles contribute 10 percent of the risk of breast and colon cancer, 6 percent of the risk of heart disease, and 7 percent of the risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to Nilofer, people spend 9.3 hours per day on their butts, eclipsing the 7.7 hours they spend sleeping.

Since she started walking and talking, Merchant has held hundreds of  walking meetings and typically clocks 20-30 miles of walks per week. That’s definitely got to be getting her close to 10,000 steps per day and she doesn’t even have to make time before or after work to hit the gym!

“This changed my life,” she said in her talk. “You’ll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking.” Not only can exercise drive creativity, energy and memory, but spending time in a natural setting has been shown to improve cognitive functioning.

As far as I can tell, there are no downsides to this strategy, except one: You can’t take notes. But that’s easily remedied – why not just bring your phone and make a voice recording when you need to remember something? I’m definitely scheduling the location of my next meeting in my Outlook calendar as “outside.”

E-mail readers: Head over the blog to check out Nilover Merchant’s TED Talk video.

3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Jennifer says:

    Neat idea! It’s somewhat being done with “golf meetings” or “baseball batting meetings” in Japan. However, these can be quite expensive. Walking does not cost a dough and could even save you some amount for transportation. You will spend calories—something you would surely want to do.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Jennifer, agreed. Seems like a win-win situation for both a company and an employee. The company benefits from an employee’s increased energy, renewed creativity, and improved cognitive skills while the employee benefits from the physical and mental benefits of exercise.

  • […] Finding something to do for yourself, even it if it as small as getting up and stretching every hour, is a fantastic way to reboot your energy level, keep you focused and not stay sitting. […]

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