Walking Meetings: Using your feet in order to better use your head

by Michael Haberman on October 8, 2014 · 0 comments


Walking and running meetings improve productivity and thinking.

Walking and running meetings improve productivity and thinking.

In my radio show persona I had the good fortune to help conduct an interview of an inbound marketing firm that happens to exercise while holding their meetings. I found it intriguing. Then in the mail the other day, snail mail variety, we get our Costco Connection. It has an article about the benefits of walking meetings. Two studies claim that there major benefits to conducting meetings in this manner.

The podcast

The podcast was with the founder and some of his staff of a company called 98toGo. Fred Spring and his staff feel their productivity is fueled by exercise. Their cultural statement is “A company that plays together transforms business together.” On their website this appears right over a picture of the entire staff doing hand stands. Their Friday meeting is a seven mile run and they frequently meet at the gym. They say they are powered by health and fitness.

Listen to Fred Spring and his co-workers Sarah Russell, Matt Bivens and Ron Medlin as they discuss how they deal with clients. The podcast can be found here.

Ideas and legs

In the Costco Connection, Susan Johnston, writes about two different studies showing the value of exercise. She tells of Daniel Schwartz of Stanford Graduate School of Education. He authored a study called Give Your Ideas Some Legs. The study, conducted with Marily Oppezzo, ran four experiments that showed “that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after.” The study tested walking versus sitting, and outside versus inside to show that walking outside had the greatest effect on thinking. As they concluded “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

The second study Johnston talked about was that of Julia Kline at the University of Michigan. Their study, Your Brain on Speed, tested “how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.” Their result was that walking and thinking does not compromise your thinking at all, even with complicated tasks.

Sitting is the new smoking

With the emphasis on wellness and the exploding use of devices such as FitBit that measure your activity it is encouraging to find studies that show a positive connection between walking and productive work. HR departments need to be spreading this word and working with company departments to accomplish two things with one effort. Encourage managers to have walking meetings. It will improve both the health of the employees and the quality of their ideas. The experience of 98toGo is a good example. Wellness not only improves the bottom line from a health stand point but from a creativity standpoint as well.

Of course as a good HR person I need to remind you to be conscious of ADA situations. It would not be good to exclude an employee who is not able to walk.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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