The Sitting Epidemic

February 12, 2014

sitting-disease-435mp082613Last week, we wrote about the productivity benefits of wellness and stressed the need for ALL company leaders (not just the HR team) to champion employee wellness as part of an employee productivity strategy.  Today, we are focusing on a simple way that company leaders can increase productivity through promoting employee wellness – with walking meetings.

A walking meeting is exactly like it sounds – a meeting that you have while walking instead of sitting at a conference table.  Walking meetings encourage employees to get up from their desks and move.

obama_walking_meetingAccording to a study by the American Cancer Society, “Sitting more than six hours a day increases premature death risk by as much as 40%.”  In an interview, oncologist and author of A Short Guide to a Long Life, Dr. David Agus, argued that prolonged sitting is as bad for an individual’s overall health as smoking.  Similarly, in a Ted Talk on this topic, Nilofer Merchant calls prolonged sitting the “smoking of our generation.”  She identified that people sit 9.3 hours a day, which is more than the 7.7 hours that people spend sleeping each night.

Most companies have long ago banned smoking in the workplace. It’s now time to start tackling this generation’s cigarette – the sitting epidemic.


Below are some tips to help organize effective walking meetings and get employees up and out of their chairs and moving towards a healthier and more productive lifestyle.


Walking Meeting Tips

Below tips are from London’s Walking Works Program material (with minor edits from the Wellable Team).


Limit numbers to no more than 4 people. This will enable everyone to have a chance to hear and participate.


Set an agenda beforehand and inform everyone of the discussion topics so they can arrive prepared.


Consider the environment you’ll be walking in.  Choose routes along quiet streets or in a nearby green space.


Give advance notice for walking meetings so that participants can bring appropriate shoes.  Allowing employees to wear more comfortable clothing and shoes in the office is a zero cost employee benefit that also has a direct impact on promoting wellness.


Try walking 2-3 abreast and make sure everyone can hear what is being discussed.

Note Taking

Assign someone to scribe and take along a small notepad to jot down any actions. Be sure to recap and identify next steps and circulate these after your walking meeting.


After the first few walking meetings, it might be a good idea to ask participants for feedback on what can be improved for your next walking meeting.

Happy walking!

Topics: Corporate Wellness

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