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By Emma Willis
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However, have you ever considered the benefits of introducing exercise and meeting energisers to engage and re-focus your delegates?
Working with smaller groups in meeting spaces or training rooms provides the perfect opportunity to think outside the box and run more active sessions. A prime example of how this can be done is to incorporate energy boosting team meeting activities. In this article, we look at the reasons why keeping delegates active is so important and how small changes can be implemented into meeting agendas.
Reasons to keep active
Employees attend hundreds of meetings and multiple training sessions each year. Continuously spending time sitting down in meeting rooms can take its toll on mental wellbeing. It is important, therefore, that those responsible for organising these activities consider new methods to help look after delegates’ mental health and wellbeing.
Attendees participating in external meetings and training will find themselves in a new environment and this often makes them more likely to try new things. Introducing actions as simple as standing up while learning makes a bigger difference than people may think.
Studies reveal that standing more helps to improve mood and energy levels. Introducing stand up meeting spaces can support this, while combining with more exercise has even more positive effects.
Becoming more active enables people to handle stress better as well as produce more endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals have a positive effect on mental health as they increase feelings of happiness and allow employees to become better at prioritising tasks.
Putting mental wellbeing in meetings first, through the implementation of small changes to keep delegates more active, supports productivity. Even if it is just for 15 minutes, the impact can be extremely positive for organisers.
Getting delegates onboard and enthused about exercise and being more active is a difficult task. There are a number of activities that we have seen work well with delegates, including desk exercises, office yoga and desk stretches.
It is of course worth keeping in mind that such activities may not be for everyone. Therefore, you should let delegates know that if they do not feel able or comfortable enough to participate, this is absolutely fine. It is useful to establish this ahead of the session and provide an alternative way for them to get involved.
Teach desk exercises
Meeting organisers can get delegates to participate in light exercise and desk stretches to raise their heart rate and feel better. These exercises can take place while sitting at a table meaning delegates feel more comfortable. With the average office worker spending a shocking 75 per cent of their waking hours sitting down, an external meeting venue provides the perfect place to start new routines.
When you are hosting a meeting there are a number of ways for delegates to keep their bodies active, as well as their mind. Whether this acts as a fun icebreaker for meetings, or utilises the natural breaks, here are some quick and easy exercises you can implement.
This first one is nice and easy and perfect for meetings in open rooms, such as our creative spaces. While sitting upright in your chair, raise both legs so that they are parallel with the ground. Slowly lower them so that they are hovering just one or two inches above the floor and hold for as long as you can. It’s surprisingly tough, but this desk exercise is perfect to introduce in-between sessions.
This one is great to lift spirits and allow delegates to feel like a big kid again. Sitting up in your chair, with your feet flat on the floor, quickly tap them on the spot as if you were running. Continue this for about 30 seconds before pausing. Do it for another 30 seconds to really push your delegates!
Yoga is becoming more and more popular in the UK and it has a number of benefits, including relieving aching muscles and tension, while also promoting better posture. In fact, many organisations have started to introduce office yoga as a way to support the wellbeing of staff and the correct way to sit. Introducing yoga in your meetings is achievable and there are a number of simple exercises you can follow.
Different yoga poses help with different areas of the body to reduce repetitive strain injury and get people to feel more comfortable.
Strengthen the triceps, back and shoulder muscles with the seated twist. It involves placing your hands on the arms and back of your chair while gently twisting your chest and abdomen to one side. Hold this for four to five breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Lengthen the spine with the seated crescent moon which can also be done while sitting down. Lift your arms over your head so your palms are touching and slowly lean to one side. Hold for two to three breaths before repeating on the other side.
Release tension in the wrist and fingers by extending your arms overhead. Draw five to 10 circles inwards and outwards with the wrists. Follow this by quickly spreading the fingers to stretch them and then closing the fists.
These exercises are simple yet bring a lot of impact to both the mental health and wellbeing of delegates. They are also the perfect tonic to a few hours of productive learning, re-energising delegates before the next session.
Take it outside
Making meetings and training sessions more active doesn’t have to be limited to things you get up to inside. If the weather is good – and the venue is right - then getting delegates out and about is also great for boosting productivity.
Warwick Conferences offers plenty of green spaces amongst its venues which can be great if planning fun icebreakers for meetings. Using the outdoor spaces allows you to take advantage of the many benefits of being out in the fresh air.
Encouraging attendees to spend breaks outside will help them to feel more refreshed. Whether it’s simple breathing techniques, or exploring the 700 acres of countryside on the Warwick campus to get their blood pumping, delegates will return to the meeting feeling more refreshed. Warwick Conferences has also developed a number of walking and cycle routes so delegates and organisers can keep up with an active lifestyle.
If staying overnight, pointing delegates in the direction of somewhere they can keep active can further support their lifestyle. Warwick Conferences has access to the multi-million pound Sport and Wellness Hub where individuals can get their hearts racing with fun sports activities. Meeting games can also be developed with the qualified sports team, just speak to your Warwick Conferences contact to arrange.
As you can see, encouraging delegates to become more active when attending meetings and training sessions has plenty of benefits. So, trying out some of these easy ways to look after employees’ wellbeing will have teams feeling refreshed and de-stressed. Mixing up training and meetings with these suggestions creates a more engaging environment to make sure delegates remember what they’ve been taught.
Have you ever introduced exercise to your meetings? We’d love tohear from you to see what you did and how it impacted your delegates!
Industry professional with 25 years experience, working across many roles within hotels and for a large cruise ship company, with 17 years spent at Warwick Conferences. Emma’s position involves working within the national and international association sector and managing key partnerships with UK clients to seek out and build strong, long-term relationships.
E dot Willis dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk