Legend has it that Aristotle walked around the Lyceum as he lectured to his students. Aristotle is often the model for people who discuss walking meetings.
The idea of a walking meeting has a lot of appeal. Many people find the flowing environment, the exercise, and the side-by-side pairing stimulating.
No one should find it a surprise that walking during meetings is popular in the Silicon Valley around San Francisco Bay. The weather is comfortable most of the year. The views are spectacular. In many places, there are safe pathways for walking.
Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Larry Ellison are among the Silicon Valley executives who conduct meetings while walking.
In the book “Steve Jobs,” Walter Isaacson writes about his conversations with Steve Jobs. “Some were…done during long walks.” Isaacson also writes about the many business deals that Steve Jobs conducted while walking.
Nilofer Merchant, a former Apple employee and self-described “author, speaker, based in Silicon Valley,” discusses how she has woven walking into her business life in a presentation on Talk.com. To quote from one of her articles on HuffingtonPost.com and HBR.org, “Sitting is the smoking of our time.” During her “Ted Talk,” Merchant said that she walks “20 to 30 miles per week.”
How much walking is a good thing? In the 1960’s, a Japanese pedometer company ran an advertising campaign promoting walking 10,000 steps a day.
How far are 10,000 steps? The length of an average stride is 2.5 feet.
- 10,000 steps x 2.5′ per step= 25,000 feet
- 25,000 feet / 5280 feet per mile = 4.735 miles.
At 12-15 minutes per mile, a person will spend close to an hour or more in taking 10,000 steps. As people increase their hours of walking, they increase the risk of injury, put more wear and tear on their legs and hips, and increase the risk of sun and wind damage to their eyes and skin.
All steps count. To take 10,000 steps a day, standing at a desk and walking in place, taking walking breaks in indoor parking lots, and walking up and down hallways and stairways all count. Walking in the office is often safer than walking on the street.
Walking is hardly a new experience for executives. Although these people may have walked alone to avoid political associations, President Thomas Jefferson walked to and from his inaugural. There are many pictures of President Harry Truman taking morning walks in Washington, DC. He wore glasses, a hat, and a suit. He protected himself fairly well from the elements. To quote Truman, “Take a two-mile walk every morning before breakfast.” Nelson Mandela walked daily before going to his office.