Public health experts give tips and discuss benefits of “Meetings on the Move”

Public health week is April 5-11

“‘Meetings on the Move’ is an inexpensive, easy way to improve health and productivity,” says Tim McBride, Ph.D., associate dean for public health at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Meetings on the Move (MOTM) get employees on their feet and out of the office environment.


“Forty percent of the population are absolute couch potatoes,” says Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D, and professor of social work at Washington University. “That’s almost a learned behavior. You learn to sit at school; you learn to sit at work. What ‘Meetings on the Move’ really does is get us active like we used to be when we were kids. We can learn then to bring activity back into our daily life, just like we learned to take it out.”

Haire-Joshu also is the director of the Obesity Prevention and Policy Research Center at the Brown School.

In celebration of Public Health Week, April 5-11, McBride and Haire-Joshu challenge workplaces to try a Meeting on the Move.

“I’ve started encouraging Meetings on the Move because we would like to put into practice what we’re teaching in our new master’s program in public health,” McBride says.

“On a personal level, I struggle with a chronic condition — migraines, and research shows that getting away from a computer and adding extra physical activity can help chronic conditions like that.”

Below are tips and benefits to holding a Meeting on the Move:

Benefits: • Physical activity. If a MOTM is your only physical activity for the day, it is better than nothing.

• Improved productivity. A MOTM can reenergize employees by getting the blood pumping.

• Different perspective. Ideas or problems can look very different once you step out of the office.

• Improved team spirit.

• May encourage exercise outside of work.

• Inexpensive. There is no need to pay for coffee or doughnuts.

• Green. Going for a walk leaves little to no carbon footprint.

• Simple addition to a corporate wellness plan or office health challenge.

• May lower stress.

• May help chronic conditions such as diabetes or migraines.

Tips: • Set an agenda. MOTM are great for brainstorming, planning or informational sessions.

• Confirm a meeting leader with the participants.

• Plan a simple route. Look at local parks, tracks and empty office areas.

• Assign the role of note-taker to one of the participants. Consider using a tape recorder.

• Use a microphone if the group is large.

• Encourage wearing comfortable walking shoes on MOTM days.

• Be open to suggestions on how to improve the MOTM.

• Vary the locations of your MOTM to increase creativity.

Editor’s Note: McBride and Haire-Joshu are available for live or taped interviews using Washington University’s free VYVX or ISDN lines. Please contact Jessica Martin at 314-935-5251 or for assistance.