Editor's Blog

20/09/2017
Walk the talk
Public Health England (PHE), the government’s public health watchdog, has made an unlikely move into event organising territory by suggesting that we all ought to be taking part in 'walking meetings'.

In a speech at the group's annual conference earlier this month, PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: "Move more. Get up and walk about. And I don't just mean in the office. Go out for a walk, get some fresh air for a meeting. We are very keen on short bursts of energy."

He also warned of the perils of sitting at your desk “haemorrhaging productivity”.

Selbie sees walking meetings as a potential cure for chronic sedentarism in the workplace, which is all well and good. But while the walking element is undoubtedly good for the people involved in the meeting, has Selbie given any thought to what effect it has on the meeting itself?

I mean, for a start, trying to have a meeting of more than three people while walking anywhere is going to be tricky. No one will be able to hear what anyone is saying, people’s voices get drowned out by traffic, or lost on the wind… There’s a reason we have meeting rooms for this kind of thing.

Also, if you’re having a walking meeting, you’ve presumably got to have destination in mind when you set out. No one wants to be wandering around aimlessly – you’ll just end up lost or walking round in circles. So where are you going to go? In this country, with our weather, chances are it’ll be the pub or a coffee shop – which will rather undo any of the health benefits associated with the walking meeting in the first place.

Finally, remember a few months ago when Theresa May announced that she was calling a general election following a rambling holiday in Snowdonia? Well, look how that turned out. She went from being a happy hiker to dead woman walking in under a month. If that’s the quality of decision made on walking meetings, health benefits be damned: I’ll take my chances staying sitting down, thank you very much.



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