Healthy Living in the North

Moving more: Demystifying the walking meeting

Walking meeting

Theresa (far right) with some of her population health teammates on a walking meeting.

Sometimes you do something because it works. After a while, you learn that there are theories, recommendations, and guidelines that tell you that you should do what you’ve already been doing. That’s what happened for Nancy Viney, Northern Health tobacco reduction coordinator, and me.

About a year ago, Nancy and I started walking together. We wanted to get some fresh air and to take some breaks away from our desks. As colleagues, Nancy and I also had to address some challenging work-related issues together. Unintentionally, we found that walking together seemed to help us think and problem solve together. So, the planning became easier and – oddly enough – the walking was less of a chore than if we had done it by ourselves.

More recently, we learned that those who sit more than six hours a day are sedentary. Between going to the gym, finding time for exercise at home, walking, gardening, and maintaining our houses, Nancy and I thought we were pretty active. However, we are sedentary. The culprit? Sitting all day at work.

Walking meetings – like Nancy and I enjoy – can be a useful way to get more activity into our day. More importantly, it breaks up how much we sit. The research behind walking meetings supports that they get us out of our chairs, can make us more creative, and can improve group dynamics.

The idea sounds simple: I know how to participate in a meeting and I know how to walk. How hard can it be to combine the two? However, walking meetings won’t work for everyone in every situation, but they do work for some in a variety of situations. They seem to work best for:

  • Networking meetings – are you just getting to know someone, or giving someone a less formal update?
  • Small groups – think how many people can walk side-by-side so that all can hear?
  • “Outside of the box” thinking – the environment change may be good for problem solving, brainstorming, team building, or planning.

And where you can’t make a walking meeting work, there are ways to still move more at work. Some situations where a walking meeting may not work include:

  • High traffic – the goal is to have everyone hear the discussion. (Option: find a quieter route.)
  • Poor weather – think about appropriate footwear and jackets, etc. This is important for preventing injuries. (Option: walk the hallways indoors.)
  • Formal meetings – if full minutes are required, this may not be the best option (though, you could audio record). (Option: build activity or standing breaks into the agenda.)
  • Is everyone in the group able to walk the terrain safely and comfortably? (Option: have a more traditional meeting with stretch breaks.)

Ultimately, every move counts when it comes to getting out of your work chair. For more guidelines on living a healthier life, visit our position papers.

Have you ever tried a walking meeting?

Theresa Healy

About Theresa Healy

Theresa is the regional manager for healthy community development with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about the capacity of individuals, families and communities across northern B.C. to be partners in health and wellness. As part of her own health and wellness plan, she has taken up running and, more recently, weight lifting. She is also a “new-bee” bee-keeper and a devoted new grandmother. Theresa is an avid historian, writer and researcher who also holds an adjunct appointment at UNBC that allows her to pursue her other passionate love - teaching.

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Getting active is easy, even if golf isn’t

Brandon golfing

Brandon hit the links for a round of golf and completed two hours of activity without even noticing.

Getting healthy and active can be tough sometimes, but when you’re doing something you love and enjoy, it certainly makes it a lot easier. Keeping the healthy living guidelines (NH’s position papers) in mind around the long-term effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior on your health, I have decided to increase my activity during the September Healthy Living Challenge. My first step was to hit the links for a round of golf.

Now full disclosure: I am a terrible golfer. I probably spend more time on unplanned nature walks looking for lost balls then I do “chipping in” the ball for par. But after enjoying playing the front nine I realized that I had just completed two hours of activity without even noticing.

Northern Health’s position on physical inactivity and sedentary behavior says:

“To achieve health benefits, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.”

At first, 150 minutes can seem like a lot, even impossible, to fit into a busy life, but it’s really only 30 minutes, five times a week, or 21 minutes and 43 seconds daily! And I think if we find things that we enjoy doing, the exercise and healthy benefits will come naturally. We can have fun getting fit and have huge impacts on our health in the process. Need more proof? Check out this video: what is the single best thing we can do for our health?

That doesn’t necessarily mean playing golf; for others that might mean going for walks, riding a bicycle, or exploring the natural beauty that northern B.C. has to offer. Physical activity doesn’t need to hard or even expensive – it’s about doing what you love, even if you’re not the best at it. So get up, get moving and try different things. Enjoy moving toward better health!

To learn more about guidelines for living a healthy life, I encourage everyone to visit our site.

Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling. (Brandon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)

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Partnering to help keep kids active

Kids playing in the pool.

Depending on their age, children need between 60 and 180 minutes of daily activity for healthy growth and development.

Although I’ve worked with children for some time now, I have recently learned a lot as co-chair of a new group of community partners called Healthy Families Prince George. For example, did you know on average, children are spending six hours a day in front of a screen? This includes watching TV, or playing with non-active electronic devices such as video games, tablets, computers, and cell phones. Looking back to my own childhood, I remember playing outside until we were called in to eat…boy, times have changed!

Healthy Families Prince George formed in the fall of 2011 in order to discuss the importance of physical activity and healthy eating for children ages 0-6. Community partners involved include Success by 6, the City of Prince George, Northern Health, School District #57, the Prince George Public Library, Pacific Sport Northern BC and the Child Care Resource & Referral…just to name a few. Our goal is to empower families, educators, and community service providers to support children in Prince George to eat healthy, be physically active and reduce screen time.

Depending on their age, children need between 60 and 180 minutes of daily activity for healthy growth and development.

Being physically active can help children:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Improve movement skills
  • Increase fitness
  • Build healthy hearts
  • Have fun and feel happy
  • Develop self-confidence
  • Improve learning and attention
  • Improve language skills

Here’s a few ideas on how to keep your little ones active:

  • Create safe spaces for your children to play, indoors and outdoors
  • Play music and learn action songs together
  • Make time for play with other kids
  • Get where you’re going by walking or biking

And remember there is nothing more your little one likes than participating in physical activity and healthy eating with you, their role models!

How do you help keep your kids active?

For more info on guidelines around physical activity for children, visit our position statement webpage and specifically our snapshot on sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity.

Jenn Tkachuk

About Jenn Tkachuk

As the Children First Manager, Jenn works with the communities of Prince George, Quesnel, Mackenzie, McBride and Valemount to promote the importance of the early years, increase community planning and coordination, and improve service delivery for children, youth and families. Jenn has worked in the area of early childhood development for 10 years and holds a master’s degree in social work. To stay active, Jenn enjoys working in her yard, walking her dog and snowshoeing in the winter.

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