The walking meeting: opportunities for better health and sustainability in post-COVID-19 cities

A discussion piece on the walking meeting, written by Anna Bornioli, has been published in the journal Cities & Health. Read more about this research here!

In the post-COVID-19 era, individuals tend to do less physical activity and to work more from home. At the same time, the pandemic has created momentum for healthier and more livable cities, and public authorities are enhancing plans to give more priority to pedestrians over cars. This is why the practice of walking meetings can be a successful addition to the daily routine of workers.

Benefits and challenges of working from home

In 2020, remote working has become the norm for millions of workers globally. Working from home can not only reduce the spread of COVID-19, but can also dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of commuting and improve work–life balance for workers. However, remote working can contribute to physical inactivity. Globally, almost one-third of adult individuals were already physically inactive pre-COVID-19 (Kohl et al2012), and sedentary behaviour has likely exacerbated further since 2020. Another limitation of working from home is the lack of socialisation.

The walking meeting: a healthy, creative, and sustainable practice

Walking meetings can address these challenges in the post-COVID-19 era by increasing physical activity levels and providing opportunities for socialisation and collaboration, stimulate creative thinking, and a positive mood. Two walking meetings per week of one hour each would contribute more than half of the recommended dose of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity.

Post-COVID-19 cities

Future cities should offer more tranquil and uninterrupted walking routes, attractive natural spaces, and physical facilities such as tables and benches. Rotterdam’s policy of the City Lounge, implemented in 2008, focused on giving pedestrians more enjoyment of public space, was found to increase the average time that pedestrians spend in the city centre by 10%. Similarly, walking meetings can also be an opportunity to revive city centres by turning them into walkable and flexible open-air offices, thus contributing to health, livability, and sustainability.

The full article is available open access here:

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