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Sitting is Killing You: A Plea for Trying Walking Meetings [TED Talk Video]

Sitting is Killing You: A Plea for Trying Walking Meetings [TED Talk Video] Blog Feature

Natalie Davis

VP of Talent & Admin, Co-Creator of IMPACT's Core Values, Vision, and Culture Code

August 19th, 2018 min read

Meetings happen all day at IMPACT -- From the time we come into the office in the morning to when we walk out the door in the afternoon.

A few years ago after moving into an office space with lots of routes to walk around the building, we decided to try “walking meetings” in place of other when we didn’t need computers or a screen/projector.

They were instantly everyone’s favorite type of meeting.

While we knew they felt better than sitting in a meeting room, and that we were obviously getting some exercise, we didn’t know there was actually some good reasoning and research for doing these types of meetings over simply sitting in a chair on a computer.

This is what drew me to Nilofer Merchant’s TED Talk, “Got a meeting? Take a walk.”

This little idea we started doing as an experiment at IMPACT turned out to really be something that’s good for our health and even good for our creativity.

Sitting is Killing You

Nilofer Merchant doesn’t beat around the bush with her point; She comes right out and says to the seated audience, “What you’re doing right now, at this very moment, is killing you.”

Of course, after hearing that, I immediately decided to take advantage of my standing desk which I realized I hadn’t used all that much recently.

Then, as she went on, I realized I’m not the only one.

Nilofer explains that people are sitting on average 9.3 hours a day, which is more than we’re sleeping (on average 7.7 hours a day.)

People don’t even question sitting down all the time because everyone else is doing it, but that certainly doesn’t make it ok.

She sums up the idea saying “sitting has become the smoking of our generation.” After some reflection on how often I spend all day sitting down, it made me sad to admit maybe she had a point.

With diseases like breast and colon cancer directly tied to our lack of physical inactivity, you would think people would make a change in their lifestyles, but even she admits those statistics aren’t what got her moving.

Things really changed for her when someone reinvented the idea of a typical meeting space.

See how she tells the story in the video here: 


Reinventing the Meeting Space

Merchant tells the story about one pivotal moment in her life when someone wanted to meet with her but couldn’t squeeze in a regular conference room meeting.

Instead, the person asked if they could meet while they walked their dog.

It was a strange idea to her at first, and actually, a little physically intimidating because she was afraid she would be huffing and puffing during the meeting, but she decided to try it anyway.

She enjoyed it and realized how important it was to keep moving!

Since then, she has replaced all coffee and traditional conference room meetings, with walking meetings.

In doing so, she does 20-30 miles of walking per week and it has completely changed her life.

She no longer thought you can “either take care of your health or you can take care of your obligations, and one always came at the cost of the other.”

Thinking Outside the Office

In addition to the health benefits of replacing traditional meetings with walking meetings, Merchant found that when she and those she was meeting with discussed things outside of the office they tended to also think out of the box. Something about switching up the norm allowed them to be more creative and productive.

So maybe next time when you’re stuck on something and need a fresh space for creativity - think about walking it out for a bit.

What other ideas has your office implemented to get active and stay creative? Feel free to share your thoughts!

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