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A Step in the Right Direction – May is National Walking Month

Every month seems to bring a new event encouraging us to do something to boost our physical and mental health. May 2022 is no different, as the country celebrates National Walking Month. 

There are many obvious benefits to walking more and improving our fitness - but have you ever taken part in a walking meeting? As the name suggests, this is where a meeting between work colleagues happens whilst walking, rather than everyone sitting in a room together. 

You may be forgiven for thinking that these are simply another fad. But according to many sources,  those who participate in walking meetings are more likely to report being creative and more likely to report high levels of engagement.

Psychology Today website references a study from 2017 which noted evidence that  “sitting is the new smoking." Walking meetings are a natural antidote to this, as they reduce mental fatigue, restore pathways to creativity in the brain and help build positive relationships with team members. Spending time in nature is a great way to naturally relieve stress, and can help particularly if the topics you will be discussing are difficult or contentious. 

There’s no doubt that many will find it easier to concentrate for longer when fresh air and a change of scenery is involved. It will also help to alleviate potential health issues caused by poor posture and sitting for long, as many of us do whether we work from home or in an office.

Tips for great walking meetings

If you are thinking of holding a walking meeting in your workplace, then here are a few tips that will help you to - quite literally - take a step in the right direction:

  • Small groups are usually better for walking meetings
  • Make sure people are warned that it’s going to be a walking meeting, in case footwear changes need to be made. Don’t spring it on them as a surprise!
  • Avoid doing a walk to a place which might negate the health benefits of the walk! If you’ve burned off a few hundred calories, the last thing you want to do is walk to a takeaway and replenish them in one fell swoop.

According to the Living Streets website, a 20-minute walk can reduce the risk of a number of preventable health conditions, including certain cancers, depression, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Of course, not all meetings are able to be held whilst walking – some would need to be in a particular room with equipment, for example. But even in those situations, you could try another innovative idea - a standing meeting. The idea here is that standing up helps to keep the meeting focussed and short – nobody gets too comfortable, slouching in their seats and drifting off. The stats for that kind of meeting, according to the Journal of Applied Psychology, are that you can cut meeting times by 34% and increase productivity and engagement.

Active Practice Charter

National Walking Month also ties in with the RCGPs Active Practice Charter. This initiative is free to join for any practice that can demonstrate it has taken steps to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity in staff and patients and partnered with a local physical activity provider.

Whatever kind of meeting you and your colleagues decide to try, we hope it stimulates new ways of working and thinking and that you step up to the challenge this National Walking Month!

Check out the Living Streets #Try20 challenge and step up with your colleagues. And if you want to post about your walking adventures then why not use the hashtags #Try20 and #Walkthismay? FPM Group are also looking to develop the idea of walking meetings and training sessions for clients, so look out for further updates on this.


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