On the Job

Take that meeting outside

For ages, friends have taken walks and talked.

It took a while for business folks to catch on.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is reportedly a fan of walking meetings. So was Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Walking kicks up creativity, according to a 2014 study from Stanford University. That’s because it boosts divergent thinking – coming up with lots of solutions for a problem. In other words, you think more freely while moving your legs than while stuck in a chair.

“Instead of sitting across from someone at a table, it’s a little more of a casual atmosphere, and it’s probably better for candid conversation,” says Mark Powell, a health and wellbeing consultant with Unum. “When you’re able to connect with somebody like that, it’s almost like you’re on the same level. It strengthens that relationship.”

Also, being outside is good for well-being, especially if you walk near trees and grass. Countless studies show the benefits of being in nature.

And finally, walking is the easiest form of exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense activity every week. Two 20-minute walking meetings each week take a big chunk out of that.

Tips for walking meetings:

  • Keep the group to no more than four people (a standing meeting is better for big groups)
  • Wear comfortable shoes (consider keeping a pair at your workplace)
  • Make sure the route is safe, easily walkable and quiet, so that you can focus on the meeting’s subject matter
  • Take a smartphone to type notes or record voice notes (or take a small pad and pen)
  • Don’t meet for more than 30 minutes

Obviously, rain, snow and searing sunshine can wipe out a walking meeting. But if conditions are okay, try one. If it doesn’t suit your group, you can always go back to what you were doing before.

Journalist Mitra Malek writes about wellness, fitness and innovation. She has taught yoga regularly since 2006 and was a senior editor for Yoga Journal magazine. Learn more at www.mitramalek.com.

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