Walking meetings are the best of both worlds, allowing your body some much-needed movement and an opportunity to be productive and connect with colleagues. Plus, walking meetings can help decrease stress and boost creativity: Research published in Frontiers in Psychology has found that walking outside can cause a significant drop in the stress hormone cortisol, and a Stanford University study found that walking can boost “creative ideation” and out-of-the-box thinking. What’s more, the researchers found that participants were able to come up with more novel ideas when walking, rather than sitting down. So really, walking meetings are a win/win/win for your well-being, workflow, and even imagination. But how can you ensure you actually keep up with them, even on days when you feel too busy to leave your workstation? We asked experts for some simple tips on how to optimize your environment and set yourself up for walking meeting success.
Keep proper footwear at your desk
Always make sure to keep a pair of walking shoes and athletic socks at your desk. “You’d be surprised how often not having the right socks, or footwear is a limiting factor,” Mitchell Starkman, M.Sc.P.T., a physiotherapist tells Thrive. Their presence helps reframe your perspective, too. “Simply having the right footwear can be a motivating factor to change your mindset and activity level,” he says.
Plan your route ahead of time
Another useful technique to ensure you’ll opt for a walking meeting is to plan and know the route you’ll walk in advance, and have a plan B in case of inclement weather. “If it’s really bad outside, walk inside,” Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., a professor at Kent State University who specializes in exercise physiology, tells Thrive. “Take a couple laps through your office, walking up and down a couple flights of stairs.” He also suggests going into walking meetings with specific destination goals in mind, like the corner coffee shop, or a specific part of the office. This way, you know you won’t turn around too soon.
Schedule walking meetings in your calendar
Take five minutes at the beginning of your week to plan out which of your meetings will be walking meetings, Starkman suggests. Then, add that information into the calendar to hold all the attendees accountable. “It’s a great way to build the routine as a team. Calendars never forget, and they build commitment.”
Keep the meetings tech-free
You don’t necessarily have to leave your phone at your desk, but Barkley advises keeping them in your pocket during walks. “The use of cell phones while walking decreases the average walking speed,” he explains. “This is a problem, since the pace of your walking may be as important as how much you walk as it pertains to disease prevention.”
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