Meeting Management

Walking meetings: Inject energy (and exercise) into your day

Walking meetings are an innovative and refreshing format. In this article, we explore how leaders can make the most of this type of meeting, and inject some creativity — and exercise — into their teams' work.

Robert Mitson
Robert Mitson

With the advent of remote work and the associated flexibility that comes with it, meetings have changed unimaginably. Organisations are embracing virtual and hybrid meetings at scale, and as a result, new types of meetings are emerging. One example is walking meetings. 

Walking meetings have become increasingly popular as a way to combine exercise and productivity. In a walking meeting, participants take a walk together while discussing business, brainstorming ideas, or conducting a meeting. This type of meeting has been shown to have many benefits, both for the individual and for the company as a whole.

Perhaps the most notable example of walking meetings was the late Steve Jobs. He was famed for holding important discussions and meetings while walking around the locale of Apple’s Palo Alto headquarters. Jobs believed that his most creative ideas came to him while walking, and attempted to imbue his meetings with the same benefits. 

Thanks to technological advancements, teams who aren’t colocated can benefit from the same injection of energy into their meetings by holding walking meetings — from wherever they are in the world. 

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of walking meetings, so that leaders can discover the full potential of this innovative — potentially even game changing — type of meeting .

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive our latest articles, interviews and product updates.

What is a walking meeting? 

A walking meeting is a type of meeting where participants walk and talk together instead of sitting in a conference room or home office. The central idea is that the physical movement of walking can inspire different ways of thinking and help to generate new ideas.

Walking meetings can be held outside or inside, and can be done alone or in groups. They can be particularly useful for brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, or informal check-ins. What’s more, with the rise of remote and hybrid meetings, it’s possible to host walking meetings virtually, with participants joining from wherever they are in the world.


Benefits of walking during meetings

The benefits of walking during meetings range from improved health to enhanced productivity, and numerous academic studies cite the connection between physical activity and cognitive function. Therefore, walking meetings are a potentially powerful way to elevate meetings and spark innovation. 

Here are some of the main benefits of walking during meetings: 

Promoting physical activity 

One of the biggest benefits of walking meetings is that they promote physical activity. Sitting for long periods of time can be harmful to our health, and many people spend the majority of their workday sitting at a desk. Walking meetings provide an opportunity to move around and get some exercise, which can help to reduce the risk of health problems such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. 

Alarmingly, remote workers are sitting more than ever. Research finds that on average, human beings are sitting more than they are sleeping in every 24 hour period. Author, Nilofer Merchant, highlighted this — and the need for walking meetings — in her seminal TED Talk.1


Cognitive enhancements

In addition to the physical benefits, walking meetings can also help to improve cognitive function and boost creativity. Studies have shown that walking can help to increase blood flow to the brain, which can lead to better concentration, problem-solving skills, and decision-making. This can be especially helpful in a work setting, where employees need to be able to think clearly and make quick decisions.


Improved team dynamics

Another benefit of walking meetings is that they can help to improve team dynamics. Walking side-by-side with colleagues can create a more relaxed and informal atmosphere, which can make it easier for people to open up and share their ideas. This can lead to better communication and collaboration, which can ultimately lead to better results for the company. In fact, according to an HBR article, those who participate in walking meetings are more than 8% more engaged than the average meeting participant.2


Productivity gains 

Walking during meetings can make the meeting more productive, as it allows for a change of pace and a break from sitting in a chair. Sedentary lifestyles are proven to hamper productivity, and exercise, by contrast, is found to stimulate it. Keeping active during the work day is therefore beneficial to performance, and walking meetings are an effective way to make it happen.


Considerations around walking meetings

Of course, there are some potential downsides to walking meetings as well. For one thing, they may not be suitable for everyone. People with mobility issues, for example, may not be able to participate in walking meetings. 

Additionally, walking meetings may not be appropriate for all types of meetings. For example, a walking meeting may not be the best format for a presentation or a training session.


Numerous academic studies cite the connection between physical activity and cognitive function. Therefore, walking meetings are a potentially powerful way to elevate meetings and spark innovation.

How to run a walking meeting

Walking meetings are a great way to get some exercise while also discussing important business or work-related topics. To run a successful walking meeting, there are a few key things to keep in mind: 

First, make sure to schedule the meeting in advance and let all attendees know that it will be a walking meeting. According to Cedric X. Bryant, president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, “Notify meeting attendees in advance so they can dress accordingly, and choose a flat path—ideally in a quiet area like a park.”3

Next, have an agenda for the meeting and stick to it. Walking meetings can be a great way to break up the monotony of traditional meetings, but it's still important to stay focused and productive. During the meeting, make sure to keep the conversation on topic and avoid getting sidetracked. 

To capture the full value of a walking meeting, however, you should be willing to allow a level of informality, in which people can harness their creativity and benefit fully from the format of the meeting. Therefore, while structure is necessary, as a meeting leader, you should also be willing to leave some room for manoeuvre. 

Lastly, be sure to capture some meeting feedback from your walking meetings. Does this format work for your team? What do they like about it? Should it become a regular fixture in your standing meetings


Walking meetings: Taking steps to enhance your meetings

In order to make the most of walking meetings, it's important to plan ahead. Make sure that you have a clear agenda for the meeting and that everyone knows what to expect. Choose a location that is safe and accessible for everyone involved, and consider the weather and any other potential obstacles.

In conclusion, walking meetings are a great way to promote physical activity and boost creativity. They can also help to improve team dynamics and lead to enhanced results for your company.

Want to learn more about meeting management?

1.Got a meeting? Take a walk”, N. Merchant, TED, 2013. 

2.How to Do Walking Meetings Right”, R. Clayton, C. Thomas, and J. Smothers, HBR, 2015. 

3.9 Ways to Squeeze in More Steps Every Day”, A. Haupt, TIME, 2023. 

Robert Mitson
Robert Mitson
About the author
Robert is passionate about shaping and communicating value, and in his work as English Content Specialist he creates insight to help leaders across Europe to make every meeting count.