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Yes, walking meetings are more productive

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Forget sitting at your desk on Skype, or leaning back on your chair in a meeting room – new research has proven getting up and taking a stroll is the most effective way to conduct a business meeting.

In fact, conducting a ‘walking meeting’ is said to boost creativity of participants by up to 60%.

In a new study, Stanford researchers found creative thinking improves while walking and also after going for a walk – whether this is outdoors or indoors doesn’t seen to make a big difference. Just the simple act of walking proved people’s creativity levels to increase more than those of people who remained seated.

The research involved four experiments using 176 college students and other adults, who were monitored as they completed tasks commonly used by researchers to gauge creative thinking. They were placed in different conditions such as walking indoors, on a treadmill, sitting indoors and walking outdoors, along the same path on the Stanford campus. Seated participants were also taken outside in a wheelchair to provide the same visual stimulation as someone walking would get.

Three experiments relied on a “divergent thinking” creativity test, in which participants had to think of alternate uses for a given object. An overwhelming majority of participants were more creative while walking than sitting.

In at least one of the experiments, the creative input increased by 60% when someone walked.

A fourth experiment evaluated creative output by measuring people’s abilities to generate complex analogies to prompt phrases. The result? 100% of participants who walked outside performed better than they did when sitting inside.

Even a person walking indoors – including on a treadmill while facing a blank wall – produced twice as many creative results than a person sitting down.

“Walking is an easy to implement strategy to increase novel idea generation. When there is a premium on generating new ideas in the workday, it should be beneficial to incorporate walks,” the researchers noted.

“In addition to providing performance benefits, it would address concerns regarding the physiological effects of inactivity. While schools are cutting back on physical education in favour of seated academics, the neglect of the body in favour of the mind ignores their tight interdependence.”

Do you do walking meetings? Where do you go? How do you think it helps you and your team?

Image: Shutterstock

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