This summer I’ve been taking a lot more walking than sitting meetings. It was originally because I was so addicted to my FitBit that I figured I would get more steps that way so I could better compete against my friends, especially my Aussie friend Simon. Of course, the more Fitbit steps you get, the better your health so there’s an incentive to rack up those steps! I asked friends and networking contacts if they wanted to have a walking meeting and they all unanimously responded favorably to it, unless it was raining out!
Over the past year, I’ve read a lot of research on why sitting is bad for you. For instance, there’s a 50% increase in risk of death and a 125% increase in risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, if you sit too much. Most Americans spend so much time sitting because we need a computer to work and a couch to relax on. I’m sitting while I write this article! This is why more organizations, and workers, are choosing to use either walking or standing desks, both of which will temporarily decrease your productivity until you adjust to those workings styles.
Walking meetings are a new trend, supported by various public figures and entrepreneurs from Barack Obama to Mark Zuckerberg. Obama often ends his working day with a walk around the White House grounds with his chief of staff. Seth Goldman, the CEO of Honest Tea, likes to take his senior staff hiking. These figures understand that walking leads to creative thinking. In the Harvard Business Review, they found that hose who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not. When you’re walking, your activity boosts your brain activity and I end up coming up with some of my best ideas when I exercise, instead of sitting next to my computer.
When I have a walking meeting, I feel like I can open up more regardless of who I’m speaking with. Not only do I come up with more creative ideas but after the meeting, I feel like I accomplished both relationship building and exercise. Walking meetings are especially useful if you are busy and have less time to exercise in a given day. Try having walking meetings in different environments in order to inspire new ideas. For instance, in New York, you can have walking meetings in various boroughs from Soho to the Flatiron District, both of which look and feel very different.
So, what are you waiting for? Walk instead of sit the next time you have a meeting. See for yourself how much it helps your mind and body and if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the person you’re meeting with, as they benefit too.