Pictured left to right: Dr. Taren Swindle, Professor Leanne Whiteside-Mansell
When Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Ed.D., professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine, read that sitting all day can have a serious impact on your health, she came up with a creative way to increase the amount of movement in her routine.
About once or twice a week, she holds a “walking meeting,” in which she and one other participant will walk a loop around campus while they talk.
What made you decide to start holding walking meetings?
I read that sitting all day is nearly as bad on your health as smoking. I often meet with faculty or staff one-on-one, and it seemed like a way to work and stay healthy.
Where do you like to go? Where do you walk in bad weather?
We usually do a loop around the campus down Markham Street and then around the Arkansas Department of Health or the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. When it is too hot or too cold, we do the loop through the hospital.
How many people attend your walking meetings normally?
Usually, it is just two of us. It’s harder with more people. It’s also harder on whoever is trying to keep some notes! But we stop sometimes and make notes on our phones or hands.
Do you find these walking meetings to be more productive than a tabletop meeting?
Yes! I won’t say we always stay on topic when we are walking, but we don’t in the office either. We often get stopped to help someone lost looking for a parking deck, but that’s OK. We might walk, then finish the meeting in the office if we need to see notes. But we usually – implicitly – agree that the meeting ends when the walk ends, so it keeps us focused. It also allows more freedom in conversations because there is no danger that we’ll be overheard by coworkers.
How would you recommend other departments implement walking meetings?
I really don’t make people walk if they prefer not, but most people like it. Making it a norm might need to come from the top down.
Do you find that participants enjoy this style of meeting?
Yes, although I take some kidding from them because I walk fast. I get a little hesitation if it’s hot, so we find a way inside.
Any final recommendations?
Good shoes! And warn your colleague so they can have shoe options, also.