The surprising power of walking the talk

Search for walking meetings and you’ll quickly find a lot about tech billionaires who make time in their schedules to hike with employees.  They know walking increases creativity and more than that, it enables conversation to flow. Walking side by side means direct eye contact is rare, and people are emboldened to speak candidly.

You don’t need to be an elite entrepreneur to get the benefits of a walk at work. Unplugged is about bringing diverse people with common interests into the great outdoors. In May we invited business leaders, tech specialists and ERP customers for a walk in the Peak District. Anthony Ackers from Mountain Boardroom led us from the car park in Hathersage onto the top of Stanage Edge.

The fresh air and exercise were invigorating, but what really got people excited was talking to each other.

“I’ve had a fantastic conversation with Simon from Northern Value Creators, that I didn’t plan on having, and I’ve learnt some stuff from him.

I can take that back. I’ve got a board meeting on Monday and I’m already developing ideas about what I want to say – ideas that I didn’t have sat at my desk preparing yesterday.”

Jonty Abbott, Director, Change8

Your brain lights up when you walk the talk

A recent study by Stanford researchers showed a person’s creativity increases by an average of 60 per cent when walking compared to sitting.

This is something people have known for a long time. 150 years ago, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

Walking is a profound connection to what it means to be human. For thousands of years people lived on foot, moving with seasons to hunt and gather.  We feel comfortable and safe when we’re walking. Think about how a parent instinctively rocks their baby, mimicking the motion of a gentle pace.

When was the last time you felt energised by a meeting or networking event?

We’ve all been on video calls where people have their cameras off, or worse, are visibly not paying attention as they do other work on their other screen. We all persist in these situations, and the effort takes its toll.

Face to face networking can be exhausting too. Lots of us have tactics we employ at these events, putting on your game face, reading body language, and preparing conversational openers. Anthony Ackers set up Mountain Boardroom to help people in businesses bring clarity, creativity and focus to their strategic thinking. They facilitate networking events like Unplugged.

“It’s the one event you can go to, where you can walk side by side with someone for ten mins and not say a word. We’ve all been to networking events where it’s like can I join that group? How can I join that conversation? You don’t need to do that on a walk.”

Anthony Ackers, Founder, Mountain Boardroom

Sitting is plain bad for you

The NHS made the link between sitting and illness in the 1950s, when researchers found the drivers of double-decker buses where twice as likely to have heart attacks as the bus conductors. The drivers were sitting all day while the conductors climbed about 600 stairs a shift.

Studies have shown that chronic sitting can lead to diabetes, cancer and even early death. It slows your body’s metabolism and affects your ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.

How much sitting is too much?

The NHS reports that many adults in the UK spend about nine hours a day sitting. This includes working at a desk, chilling on the sofa watching TV and scrolling your phone, but doesn’t include the time you spend sleeping. The recommendation is for at least 20 mins of exercise a day to counter-act the health risks of prolonged sitting.

The beauty of getting Unplugged

Best of all walking is something most of us can easily do. You don’t need to combine walking and talking but when you do it’s a win, win. Your brain is at its most creative and you can engage in meaningful conversations. You’ll see the world in a new way and come home energised.

We love a good walk at Unplugged. We also like getting people together outdoors to solve problems and build relationships. The next Unplugged is Return of the Raft where we’ll work in teams to plan, build and race a raft across a reservoir.

Next Event

Return of the raft

Combs Reservoir – Peak District
20th September 2023

This event is about working in teams to plan, build and race your raft. You’ll get barrels, poles, ropes and some expert instruction on tying knots. The rest is up to your creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to communicate with your team. You’ll definitely find out how competitive people are

Raft building imagery