Are you stuck on your home office chair? Or in my case a large exercise ball? I thought if I sat on the ball, it would make me somehow move more, in truth it doesn’t, I’m still sitting chair-like…for long hours a day. In fact, studies are indicating that we are all ‘tush-down’ for even more hours in a day than pre-pandemic. It’s easy to see why; lockdowns, isolation, work obligations that demand digital technology to pivot and keep up. And so, the ‘new-norm’ is physically sedentary. COVID-19 aside this shift in lifestyle is negatively affecting our overall health and believe it or not, our productivity and creativity.
Here’s what research is showing. Prior to our sudden shift of 2020, people would sit on average for 9.3 hours a day. Even pre-pandemic that is stunningly high. Commuting, work, meals, social gatherings, entertainment such as concerts, theatre, restaurants all are sitting activities. Now add in the notion of mental fatigue, and the stressors of a global pandemic, priorities that include the shift home for work and school, and the isolation associated with it, and we are now sitting on average for…are you sitting down for this…? 15 hours every single day!
Shocking right? Ideally, we should be at least standing, even at our workstations for 15-30 minutes every hour. Do you do that? Do you get up and stand for ½ of your workday? Research states we know we should, but we don’t, and the inactivity is not only diminishing our physical health it’s taking a toll on our mental and emotional well being too.
You’ve heard it before – sitting is the smoking of our generation, perhaps we can now deem the sitting epidemic as yet another secondary impact of COVID. Some medical professionals have labeled it the ‘sitting disease’ and this elevated tush-time is wrecking havoc on our health. Countless studies have pointed to sitting disease for negatively affecting our overall health and our waistline. Canadian research lead by David Alter, MD, PhD, FRCPC, found that sitting time is linked to higher risk of death, higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of cancer, cancer-related deaths, heart disease-related deaths and diabetes. Dr. Alter suggests that our metabolisms slow down, we burn less energy, fat and fuel leading to excess weight. That puts us at risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Not only does this extended time on our butts hinder our physical health it stifles the mind too. But according to research by behavioral and learning scientist Marily Oppezzo, getting up and going for a walk might be all it takes to get your creative juices flowing. Studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are moving their bodies.
So, at Levvel Inc. we decided to challenge team members to have those non-screen conversations as Walk and Talks. And getting out of the box , would lead to out of the box thinking!
Here are some Walking Meeting tips to give your butt a break and get you moving.
• In your meeting calendar invite, explain you’d like to host your meeting as a walking meeting. Schedule the same time you’d have allotted for the sitting meeting. Be ready with device, water bottle or coffee, and shoes on prior to the start time.
• Some of your meetings may require a formal agenda to keep things on track. Send that with the invite and either have it on your smart phone as reference or print it out.
• Try holding walking meetings in the afternoon when people generally have lower energy levels. The fresh air will revive you both.
• Get a good set of ear buds or a headset with a built-in mic. But avoid putting on the noise cancelling feature unless you are walking in a park with no wheeled traffic.
• Avoid noisy roads or crowded areas and have your local route planned in advance so the timing aligns with your departure and arrive back time.
• Plot out a few walking routes that work out to the typical length of a meeting. Consider paths that take 15, 30 and 60 minutes to complete.
• Set a goal for walking meetings each week.
• If need be, record the meeting for recollection later, or take notes via dictation on your smart phone. Amazing what your device can do.
• How many of you have activity trackers? Smart watches, fit trackers etc. Has it been sitting on the desk or bathroom counter for months? Strap it on and track your steps. You’ll see how much additional physical activity they’ll get just by having a few walking meetings a week.
• Don’t think of it as exercise, think of it as a ‘refresh’ of scenery from your meeting screen and four walls.
We know that taking the first step sometimes is the hardest. It’s OK to huff and puff during the conversation, it’s been proven to clear your mind. If you need to mute while listening take that time to deep breathe, you’d be surprised how fresh air drives fresh thinking!
Make this meeting style your go-to suggestion for one-on-one meetings, status updates, brainstorming sessions, and more informal chats. This could change your life or dare I say even save it by taking care of your health one step at a time.
At Levvel we are walking the talk. Regardless of whether walking meetings become a key part of your company culture or just a way for colleagues and clients to get away from their desk, take the first step today and break away from the proverbial boredroom.
~Cherene Kambeitz, Marketing & Communications Director – Levvel inc. Reach out to Connect@levvel.ca