Evolutionarily, we have spent the bulk of our development in nomadic tribes, walking the earth in search of resources, using our spatial reasoning skills to navigate our landscape.
Today, we spend the bulk of our modern lives in wheeled office chairs and rely more on Google Maps for navigation and GrubHub for food foraging.
This is a shame, though, because we were designed to move.
Here at Adventure Associates, we believe this wholeheartedly and you’ll often find us in walking meetings, or taking a loop around the block. In fact, on my first in-person interview here I racked up over 7000 steps on my phone’s pedometer during a walking interview. Thank goodness I had opted to wear oxfords instead of my flippy floppies.
Walking Makes You More Creative
Did you know that on average you can increase your creativity by 60% by taking a walk? This has in fact been documented in a Stanford study, wherein they did a number of experiments correlating walking to novel idea generation and creativity. So the next time you and your colleagues are stumped on a problem, it may be time to lace up your sneakers.
Walking Meetings Make You Healthier
I’ve skipped out on enough after work gym sessions to know that it can be hard to maintain an active lifestyle when you’re inundated by work. But the benefits of exercise are irrefutable. Besides being great for your body, it’s also great for your brain, increasing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, all essential neurotransmitters that can positively affect your mood.
By adopting walking meetings, you’re building exercise into your daily life, which not only benefits you physically and mentally, but it also makes you feel just a little less guilty when you kick back on your couch with a glass of pinot and fire up the latest episode of House of Cards.
You’re Lowering the Intimidation and Distraction Factors
If you have to have a serious one-on-one with someone, walking meetings are a great idea. Talking side-by-side is much more natural than across the table from a superior, where the hierarchy is painfully clear.
Imagine the anxiety that often accompanies an unexpected call to meet in your boss’s office versus your boss asking you to join her on a walk. Difficult conversations happen much more pleasantly this way, when you’re not staring back at one-another, waiting for responses.
Also, you’re less distracted. In walking meetings, it’s quite awkward to pull out a cell phone to check some status update. Walking keeps you focused on the conversation at hand.
You’re more likely to have an honest and engaging conversation while you’re on the move.
Great Thinkers Made Walking a Part of Their Lives
Steve Jobs could often be found walking through the neighborhoods of Palo Alto, contemplating Apple’s next big move. Aristotle famously taught philosophy in walking lectures, creating the Peripatetic School of Philosophy in the process (peripatetic means “itinerant, wandering, meandering, or walking about”). Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Beethoven, Goethe, and Thoreau were all creative luminaries and avid walkers.
In the spirit of “…if it works for them”, then I think it is a compelling argument for the benefits of walking and thinking. We believe in it so much that we’ve even created a special program around walking that we call the Breakthrough Trek.
Give Walking Meetings a Chance
I challenge you to give walking meetings a chance. It might be helpful to create a secondary goal, like, “Hey let’s go grab a coffee and talk about that new manufacturing issue.” If it takes a stunning statistic to pop you out of your ergonomic chair, then consider that you spend, on average, 9.3 hours a day in a chair. If you were meant to spend that much time sitting, you’d have evolved a barcalounger for a backside. Now get out and move!
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