Healthy meetings: Get up and move

Meetings and conferences can have a strain on your energy level. Small physical activity breaks can reenergize your brain and body.

Schools are beginning to implement physical activitygroup walking breaks within the classroom as research is showing that these breaks can assist students in focusing on the learning material. So why would adults be any different?

When meetings or conferences last longer than one hour, a physical activity break can assist participants in re-energizing to feel more alert and also improve the productivity at the meeting. Ten to 15 minute breaks at least every two hours, can provide an adequate time that can then assist participants in meeting the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

When choosing a location for your meeting, do your best to choose a location that may include physical activity options whether they are indoors or outdoors, especially for guests staying overnight. Alternatives to this may include scheduled group walks and runs or activity classes such as yoga or Pilates.

In addition, it is important to acknowledge that participants can greatly benefit from moving during the meeting.

Ideas to incorporate activity into your meeting or conference schedule can include:

  • Holding a walking meeting (if the group size allows).
  • Hold the meeting or conference in a location that provides an indoor or outdoor walking area for break times.
  • Have participants break into small groups to brainstorm while being active.
  • Tell participants they may dress casually.
  • Schedule “Physical Activity Breaks” on the agenda for participants to see.

No room to walk? Have participants march in place, use the stairs or lead the group through stretching exercises or other energizing activities such as dance breaks, swimming in place or pretending to climb a rope. Physical activity can also be built into ice breaker activities, such as give 10 people high-fives and introduce yourself to each as you do so.

Always remind participants that participating in the physical activity breaks is optional and they should stop if they experience pain or discomfort.

Michigan State University Extension offers a program to promote healthy lifestyles within the workplace, called Workplace Wellness. For more information contact the Worksite Wellness coordinator, Dawn Earnesty at or visit and for upcoming programs and educational opportunities.

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