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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Walking and Workplace Wellness

If you are like most white-collar Americans, your day may involve these walks:

  • From the bed to the shower
  • From the shower to the breakfast table
  • From the breakfast table to the garage
  • (Interruption: Drive to work)
  • From the parking garage to the office
  • From the office to the restroom
  • From the office to the break room
  • From the office back to the parking garage
  • (Interruption: Drive home)
  • From the garage to the dinner table
  • From the dinner table to the couch
  • From the couch to the bed

Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Thoreau would be aghast!

"Americans now walk the least of any industrialized nation in the world," says writer Tom Vanderbilt.  At the same time, we are hearing more about workplace wellness.  So where do the two intersect?

My suggestion? Walking meetings.

Breakthroughs in thinking often come when we take regular breaks, and there is no better break that I can think of than a quick walk.  Last year, CHI had a walking meeting for a brainstorming session and ended up with an idea that resulted in a $5,000 grant.  Personally, I have experienced many small successes when I peeled my eyes away from my dual monitors for a few minutes and allowed some fresh air and brisk movement to clear my head.

Opportunities for walking meetings abound.  Pretty much any meeting that does not require a PowerPoint presentation or conference call is fair game.  Do you have a weekly one-on-one check in with another staff member?  Take it to the sidewalk.  Do you have a regular staff meeting?  Walk a few blocks to a nearby park and hold it outdoors.  It is good for your health and can boost productivity and creativity.

Do you already use walking meetings at your organization?  Have you found any other creative ways to get outdoors during the workday?  Let us know by commenting below.