UM Study: 'Walking Meetings' Are A Step Toward Better Worker Health

Jul 19, 2016
Originally published on July 19, 2016 6:07 pm

First, ergonomic chairs were a must-have when it came to workplace wellness. Then, standing desks were all the rage.

Could “walking meetings” follow?

A new University of Miami study suggests that swapping out a seated meeting just once a week for what TV screenwriters call “the walk and talk” could be a boon to worker health and well-being.

Over a three-week period, study participants -- white-collar workers -- wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity.

“It gives us a sense of what the person’s daily physical activity looks like,” says lead author Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez, assistant professor in the UM’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

Armed with some suggested guidelines for holding a meeting while walking, (e.g., creating an agenda in advance, designating a note taker and a time checker, etc.), the participants held a daily walking meeting for about 30 minutes.

The researchers found that walking meetings increased workers’ moderate physical activity levels by 10 minutes, a finding Caban-Martinez calls “huge.”

“If you think about the [American Heart Association’s] recommendation of needing 30 minutes a day, if you did three walking meetings in a day, you’ve met what is recommended to improve cardiovascular health,” he says.

But can walking meetings lead to better work habits and more productive employees?

Caban-Martinez and his team are working on a second, as yet unpublished, study examining the affect that walking meetings have on worker moods and productivity.

“We’re finding that workers that engaged in the walking meeting had slightly better moods throughout the week than workers who didn’t,” he says.

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