Anyone who works in an office environment, or even anyone who just spends a lot of time at a desk, has likely heard about the perils of sitting down for such long stretches day in and day out. While it doesn’t seem like such an unhealthy habit on the surface, the risks of this lifestyle are becoming increasingly well known. While it sometimes feels like there’s only so much we can do about this pervasive problem, that doesn’t have to be the case. I had that attitude for many years, but thankfully found a way to shake things up that most of us can easily incorporate in our day-to-day lives: walking and talking.
For many of us, the excuse for not getting up and moving centers on our work schedules. We get to the office too early and come home too late to find time for the gym, and there’s no locker room in our building so we can’t work out during lunch. I’m not discounting those obstacles; with a jam-packed work schedule, squeezing in some exercise to balance out all the desk time often just isn’t feasible. So why not combine exercise and the jam-packed work schedule? This came to me on one of the innumerable days that I was stuck watching a beautiful day from my office window, waiting for a meeting to start and wishing desperately for some fresh air. When the other meeting participant got to my office, I realized there was no reason that our meeting needed to happen inside – so off we went. We had our meeting on the move and I haven’t looked back since.
I recognize there are certain obstacles to this habit. Some meetings require laptops, projectors or conference call lines, none of which translate well to a mobile meeting. But when you’re able to get out and about, there are several key benefits you’ll run into:
- Increased creativity: Getting blood flowing, even just for a quick coffee run, will keep everyone’s brains sharp, leading to more productive brainstorms. It’s hard to feel inspired when you’re staring at the same four walls; take advantage of the change of scenery.
- New atmosphere: I’m not only referring to the fresh air and sunshine (although those offer their own perks), but also to the more subtle shifts that come from shaking up the setting. When you’re taking a stroll with an employee, you lose that sense of being on a certain side of the desk. A quick walk around the park will do wonders for leveling the playing field and opening the door for some ideas that otherwise might be left unsaid.
- Different minds: Not only will the minds in attendance be clearer and less inhibited, but walking meetings present a great opportunity to bring in different minds in general. This strategy isn’t suited to the 10-plus person meetings that might take place in a conference room. Use a walking meeting as a chance to interact with one or two teammates at a time and listen to the people you don’t normally get a chance to hear.
- Health benefits: These speak for themselves. How will any of us reach that 10,000-step goal if we’re spending all our time staring at a screen?
Some of this is easier said than done, and I certainly expect some traditionalists to balk at the idea of moving business out of the boardroom. But to those who give themselves a chance to get in the walking-and-talking habit, I can guarantee they’ll be enjoying these results in no time.