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Is Sitting the New Smoking? A Business Exec Recommends a Remedy: Walking Meetings

Add Nifoler Merchant—author, lecturer, business exec, deep thinker—to the list of people who view prolonged sitting as a health risk.

Her recent contribution to the Harvard Business Review Blog Network is titled “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation.” Among her reasons:

• People average 9.3 hours of sitting daily. Sleeping? 7.7 hours per day.

• An hour of sitting can cause a 90% decrease in the production of enzymes that burn fat. (That's our hint to get up and move a little.)

Merchant writes that 4 years ago, in hopes of merging exercise and productivity, she began inviting business partners on walking meetings. She says she now averages 20 to 30 miles per week on walking/hiking meetings.

Merchant calls the effort “life-changing,” and cites colleagues who credit walking meetings for triggering a creativity boost.

Walk-and-talk sessions were common in The West Wing, and the show's crew reunited last year to create this walking-is-healthy public service announcement:

Meanwhile, a recent segment on NBC’s Rock Center focused on one researcher’s call for more self-locomotion in every person’s life. Note: A brief ad precedes the clip:

Does all this sound sensible to you?

I'm persuaded. Seeing such reports or a beware-of-sitting infographic I shared in an REI Blog post last year has led me, a devoted long-distance hiker, to squeeze in more steps whenever possible in an office environment.

If time and circumstances permit, I'll walk to a restroom 2 buildings away and on a different floor rather than just stroll to the one down the hall. I’ll hoof it to a coworker’s cube in lieu of an email, as long as I’m not being a pest. If my schedule allows it, I’ll take the long way to a destination for a bonus calorie burn. (Smiley-face note to supervisiors: I'm hustling when I walk. Honest.)

Standing desks. Treadmill workstations. Now walking meetings. Would you take part in one? Would you lead one? They intrigue me. How about you?

Posted on at 11:30 AM

Tagged: sitting and walking

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