Presentation: The What, Why & How of Walking Meetings, with America Walks

Last week I was fortunate to co-present with Sheila Franklin and Jessica Tunon on one of my favorite topics.

It’s the best sign of contagion when you are not the only person presenting on something that you are so passionate about.

My slides are below. You can also view the entire presentation at the America Walks web site..

On the occasion of preparing for this presentation, I went back and visited the semi-Epic post I wrote in 2008 to see what had changed since then:

  • Wearable devices have since been shown not to be the motivating force they were once thought to be, with two significant studies in 2016 published about this. This makes modification of the work environment even more critical – a smart watch isn’t going to make people walk any more than a scale makes someone lose weight. An appointment on a calendar that says “walking meeting” – that works 🙂 .
  • All of the rules about how many people can be in a walking meeting have been smashed, now that I have a 1,000-person walking meeting under my belt.
  • This is still one of the most contagious health interventions I have experienced/infected others with – nothing has stopped the walking
  • I still love hearing stories about adoption of walking meetings – please tweet those to me and/or put them in the comments.

Just Read: I’m in the 10% (who still wears their fitness tracker)

This is a randomized-controlled study (link here, paywalled) of “modern” wearable that has been widely reported (here, and here, among other places, with a “we told you so” tone). It casts doubt on the effectiveness of fitness trackers to promote physical activity and health.

Interestingly to me, the baseline/context study that they cite is the 2007 JAMA piece that headlines my epic post “The Art of the Walking Meeting” from that same time. So I guess I am a product of a nearly 10-year experiment to discover whether personal physical activity data can make a difference in a person’s life.

This study

The design and device selection manages much of the criticism directed at the other recent wearables study, which I wrote about previously:

Just Read: Study – Wearables don’t improve weight loss – can you outrun a bad diet?

Specifically this criticism was addressed in this study:

  • This is a “modern” wearable device (Fitbit Zip)

Actually, come to think of it, I think that was the major criticism of that study 🙂 .

This study did not include a comprehensive weight loss intervention program like the JAMA study did, so was not really set up to show weight loss. We should be surprised if it did, because there really hasn’t been much evidence that data by itself results in weight loss. Same goes for exercise by itself resulting in weight loss.

What the study did do is look at the attrition rate of wearable device use and impact on physical activity, specifically steps per day/week, and with a cool twist, the addition of cash incentives, both to the person, and to the charity of a person’s choice (from a selection of 13 options).

Two other things the researchers did that I found interesting:

  • They stratified participants by level of baseline activity, either “active” or “insufficiently active,” which allows the study of people who are already motivated
  • They required participants to pay S$10.00 up front ($7.18 US) to join the study, which today is a non-trivial percentage of the cost of a wearable device, to screen out the “marginally motivated”

And, the attrition rate for device wear was high at 12 months. 90% high. Fitbit use was slightly protective, because curiously, the group without any device became less active over the 12 months of the study (probably because they had good intentions when signing up for a study on physical activity?). The rest of the numbers are on the disappointing side, and the extrinsic/intrinsic motivation pattern that we’ve all learned about also showed itself – people who were given cash to take extra steps regressed even more when the money was taken away compared to the no-cash group:

In fact, we noted a potential undermining effect of cash incentives on MVPA bout min when comparing the cash group with the Fitbit group, driven by a net difference of 42 MVPA bout min per week (95% CI −79 to −5; p=0·0246) among participants who were already active at baseline.

Me: So I’m in the 10%

Ever since the JAMA study came out in 2007 I’ve been wearing a fitness device of some kind, from a $10 pedometer to an Apple Watch (“Apple Watch Review, by a former Google Glass Explorer“) – my fitbit interlude was very short – I admit I’m a shiny object type of person.

There’s a notable difference in the metrics of Apple Watch, by the way. It counts calories, not steps, steps are actually obfuscated in the interface. This is something the researchers noted as a limitation in their study – the idea that steps don’t mean very much to a human. Calories (in my opinion) are more translatable to other behaviors like eating that are a part of the health equation.

All of this aside, I am in the 10% of people who still wears a fitness tracker, I am already motivated to be active, mostly because of the knowledge of what it can do for me, the people I serve, and a host of INtrinsic motivational factors. Does that make a device like this by itself a strategy for a population? Probably not. Is it useful for me? Yes.

The key point for me is “by itself.” As I look back through the retrospectoscope of the mini-walking revolution I have created, I do see people who weren’t going to be motivated by the same things I was no matter how convincing I tried to be, which is the definition of diversity (and with appropriate quote: “to be convincing you have to be convinceable” – it’s about listening).

I also see people who were/are exceptionally and contagiously motivated with the smallest push. These are the people who bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes to work because they see that I’m on their calendar for a meeting (which still blows me away in terms of the kindness and compassion people bring to their relationship with me and themselves).

For the 90%

Our next “steps” are to discover how to be there for the people we serve in a way that respects their drive to achieve their life goals, because everyone has life goals. For some it may be a device by itself, for some it may be a device plus some leadership, or it may be a leader with a device. The device may not be something a person wears, it may be something the sidewalk wears (see: Quantified Community: Using population sensors instead of wearables to track health)

I am pro-technology, used at the right place and time, and pro-human, respected for who and where they are in their life journey. To an extent this is why health professionals will be around for a very long time.

It may be that computers will soon diagnose better than doctors. But the facts fed to computers will still have to be the result of intimate, individual recognition of the patient. – A Fortunate Man, 1966

And device or not, nothing’s going to stop the walking.

#activetransportation #whymetrowednesday #walking ❤️ DC

Presentation: Work While Walking – Walking Meetings – with Professional Convention Managers Association Capital Chapter

2015.10.22 Work While Walking Eytan PCMA.001

It was so great to dialogue with the Professional Convention Managers Association – Capital Chapter (@PCMACC) about walking meetings, part of a whole program on healthy meetings. My slides are attached for reference, feel free to share.

Very Accurately Quoted in BBC’s “Forget standing meetings, try this instead”

Forget standing meetings, try this instead, via @BBC_Capital

“The most boring thing is sitting in a room and staring at someone for half an hour,” said Eytan. “If you tell me it’s a walking meting, it’s overall a bright spot in the day.”

The quotes, including the one above, are accurate. The one correction is that the Center for Total Health is not in Vancouver, Canada. I was however, walking in Vancouver, Canada, during the interview (part of the amazing KP Lantern project).

You can’t have a conversation about walking meetings unless you are actually walking of course, and Vancouver is one of the best places in the world for that anyway.

And I’m being serious when I say I was very accurately quoted above, because I actually lived that very experience just few weeks ago. I was invited to participate in a scientific roundtable hosted by the American College of Sports Medicine (@ACSMNews) and the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy (@KPIHP), and when my role was described, there was no walking involved. I am a huge fan of the ACSM (and KPHIP) and I think they sensed my frown on the other end of the telephone receiver. Then suddenly the frown turned upside down once they said I could absolutely convert the agenda time I was being asked to lead into a walk. It was like the skies cleared and a double rainbow showed itself.

And…we did the walk as prescribed. Not only did we do that one, but a few more walks were added to the agenda for the 2 days of the roundtable. We established that a roundtable doesn’t need to happen at a round table, or even at a table.

Here are the photos from our walks, which were with internationally recognized experts in physical activity. What a great way to interact with them.

Validation of my standing (pun intended) policy – if I can walk to it, I’ll do it :).

Thanks Alina Dizik (@Dizik) who walked with me during our interview (even though she was was somewhere far away), and for the BBC for publishing on this extremely important topic to my overall happiness.

#WalkingMeetings – story coming to your local CBS Station

A pleasure to host Susan McGinnis (@SusanMcGinnis) from CBS News, at the Center for Total Health (@KPtotalHealth) to film a story about walking meetings – the revolution continues. She’s looking for other companies in the DC area that include walking meetings in their work – feel free to tweet her.

Thanks, Che Parker (@CParker1911), for the photographic wizardry.

The contagion of walking meetings

New for 2014 – The Walking Meeting | David Haimes Oracle Intercompany Financials Blog.

Hey this is great – a blog post on the Oracle Intercompany Financials Blog about a leader trying out walking meetings? Fantastic! Never too late to start.

As I have mentioned previously, I have found that walking meetings are incredibly contagious, meaning that it doesn’t take a whole lot of suggestion for people to take them up. Check out this one, for example: Schlep with a Shrink or Specialist Program – Paiva Psychotherapy

There are very few behavior changes that I’ve found that are stimulated by a tweet or a blog post :). This appears to be one of them.

I wish David a ton of good health in trying this out. Looks like Michele is already on her way. I can’t stand the innovation I get to see on social media sometimes…

You can access my penultimate guide to walking meetings here.

Contagion – Walking Meetings – Walking Summit 2013

The 2013 Walking Summit is opening today (#walksum13). This is my contagion slide, which shows some of my favorite people, old friends and new, (@susannahfox @reginaholliday @danlevs @pattifbrennan), from different disciplines and parts of the world spreading the word about walking meetings. Patients, health system leaders, internet anthropologists, professors, they’re all doing it.

Watch for more photos of people walking this week.