Do multi-tasking meetings work?

Spending the majority of our working life sitting, glued to a computer screen or stuck in back to back meetings may pay the bills but it could be detrimental to our health. With work place inactivity cited as one of the main causes of lifestyle health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the wide-spread health warnings aren’t unfounded. But how feasible is increased activity when the nature of an office environment tend to be stationary? Although a quick lunch time dash to the gym seems a good idea in theory, the length of breaks varies from company to company and squeezing in a HIIT session could induce more stress than benefit.

However this could be about to change thanks to a recent study published by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine entitled ‘Opportunities For Increased Physical Activity In The Workplace: The Walking Meeting’. Its main focus was to look at ways of preventing chronic disease by introducing a healthier approach to the average working day to get us moving. The results found that if we swapped one seated meeting per week for a walking one our physical activity levels could increase by 10 minutes. Over a period of time and with regular bouts of brisk walking incorporated into the working day, it’s possible to extend our life expectancy by up to three years.

Walking has always been one of my favourite forms of exercise. But it’s not a leisurely stroll that gets my fitness levels up – I like to push myself and see how fast I can walk, even timing it to find my personal best. There’s nothing more invigorating than striding forwards, breathing deeply to clear your mind in the fresh air. The very act of walking is not only a great balancer, it also gives you the space to think and take time out. While this could work in your favour by encouraging new ideas and suggestions, it could also become harder to concentrate on the issues raised. Then there’s the problem of taking notes.

I’m not sure how easy it would be to handle an iPad whilst walking at break neck speed, but I’d be prepared to give it a try.

Let’s face it, opportunities for physical activity in the office are limited and if walking meetings are feasible and can have a positive effect on our fitness levels, health and overall wellbeing, surely that’s got to be worth getting up off our chairs for!


Alison Davies