The Benefit of Walking Meetings

6 mins read

Most of us know that the largest muscle in our body is the gluteus maximus – our tush. For such a large muscle it is definitely not getting its use in a day. Most of you right now, in this moment, are sitting down reading this article. Would it surprise you to hear that people are sitting 9.3 hours per day on average? That means we are sitting more than we are sleeping, which is only 7.7 hours on average! In Nilofer Merchant’s Ted Talk “Got a meeting? Take a walk” (included below in this post), she goes as far as saying that “sitting has become the smoking of our generation”. If you do think about it, this lack of movement is rarely questioned as it is seen as normal, a requirement even, and everyone else is doing it. So, with everyone doing it, is it really wrong?

For those of you who just came to the realization you might have a problem here, what is the solution? How can we sit less and move more during our busy day-to-day lives that involve most hours spent sitting still at work? Nilofer found her answer in a business social interaction. Let’s take a look at her personal discovery, and the two things Nilofer has learned after many walking meetings.

Who is this Woman, walking the walk?

Nilofer Merchant is an MBA graduate of Santa Clara University, and Applied Economics at the University of San Francisco. She has guest-lectured at Yale, and has taught business strategy, collaborative management, and leadership at Stanford University and Santa Clara University. Nilofer has served on public, as well as Nasdaq-traded and private company governance boards. Living in three continents has allowed Nilofer to shape a global take on the future of business and working. Nilofer’s overall success in the business and technology world includes having written three books and personally launching over 100 products netting over 18 Billion in sales over the last 25 years. This innovative speaker, writer and business leader has a lot of valuable experience to share.

The Discovery of Walking Meetings

In her Ted Talk, Nilofer shares that she first started moving through a social interaction. The business meeting Nilofer was invited to was no walk in the park, it was however a dog walk, which at the time she saw as an odd way to have a business meeting. Inspired by the experience Nilofer decided to take this idea and make it her own. She began asking people to go on walking meetings rather than typical meetings in board rooms or sitting down over coffee. This one simple change turned into 20-30 miles a week of walking, and this changed her life!

Two Things Nilofer learned from walking meetings:

  • Fresh Air, Fresh Thinking
    The first thing that Nilofer shares she learned with walking meetings is “there’s this amazing thing about actually getting out of the box that leads to out-of-the-box thinking”. Both moving, and a change of environment are great ways to help with new ideas. Whether it is through exercise, or simply going outside for a few minutes to refresh yourself, both of these activities can help with stimulating our brains. As Nilofer puts it, “you’ll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking.”
  • Reframing Opposing Problems
    Nilofer also shares what she has learned about holding problems in opposition. Prior to her discovery of walking meetings, she used to think you had to choose between taking care of your health, or obligations – one or the other. After several hundred walking meetings, Nilofer has discovered that it’s really not that way. Maybe if we reframe problems, see both things as true, we will be able to see the world differently and this is when doable, sustainable, and viable solutions will come to light.

The BIG Take Away

Nilofer’s Ted Talk gives us great insight on how moving more can bring an entirely new set of ideas into your life. From a weird dog walk meeting that sparked an innovative idea, she has shared with us how something as simple as walking meetings have changed her life for the better. Here is the bottom line: walking and talking could change your life too! What could you start today to get moving more and sitting less?

You can watch Nilofer Merchant’s Ted Talk here.

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