As a part time fitness professional I have a vested interest in the scientific evidence of the benefits of a daily physical activity, and am confident that adding a fitness component to your association meetings and conferences will create a positive response.

If you look at people’s wrists, you will see a high percentage of your meeting attendees wearing activity trackers. It’s a guarantee that throughout your meetings they have been buzzed by their tracker to “move”. These participants have a vested interest in their health and wellness. Incorporating a physical activity component to your association meetings and conferences will add a huge benefit to your event attendee.

Did you know?

  • Exercise prevents cognitive decline giving you a sharper memory with age!
  • When you exercise, positive endorphins are released into your bloodstream reducing the effects of depression and anxiety.
  • Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals.
  • An increase in the creation of brain neurons, their survival and their resistance to damage and stress occur with regular exercise.

So now that we know why you need to incorporate a physical activity into your association meetings and conferences, let’s discuss how to add them.

1. Determine what type of activity to incorporate into your association meetings and conferences.

Prior to the meeting, send a brief survey to attendees asking them what type of activity they would like to participate in (i.e. indoor/outdoor, walking/running.)

Based on your association meeting location determine what type of activity to plan. If you are meeting in downtown Toronto or the mountains in Whistler your options for activities are very different. Also consider the weather trends in that area and what truly is feasible.

2. Be aware of time zones.

Carefully think about the time of day to have a physical activity session during your meetings.

When people are traveling for their national association meetings they are often from different time zones. Realize that early morning runs may be great for someone local, but for some people the time change can be hours different from what they are used to. People will be too exhausted to participate in this activity and there will be low turnout. Instead, incorporate a midday physical activity into your meeting structure.

3. How long should you plan for?

When adding a physical activity to your association meeting you do not need to make the session hours long. 30 minutes is a perfect fit. It allows enough time for participants to recharge and not enough time for people who aren’t interested to stray.

“People should plan their day around fitting in at least 30 minutes of exercise, at least 5 times a week. While it has obvious benefits for weight loss, exercise offers lesser known benefits as well.” Kathryn Sawatzky, Certified health coach, Blue Sky Fitness and Health Coaching.

4. How do you get the buy-in from the meeting attendee to participate?

Meeting attendees may see this time on the agenda as free time, a perfect opportunity to check their email, go shopping or have a nap. Describe the importance of physical fitness at meetings to your attendees.

Have a wellness coach provide a brief endorsement video on the importance of physical activity that you can play prior to the session. Perhaps have testimonials from members on how physical activity changed their lives. Most importantly, make it fun, engaging and an opportunity for delegates to recharge. This is also an opportunity for you to make your meeting or event truly memorable for all delegates.

Physical fitness is a great way to meet the needs of all of your attendees by mixing top notch education with the opportunity to recharge.

Want more information on adding a wellness component to your meetings? Here’s another article that might help out as well.

Coralee A. Dolyniuk, Association Manager, and Certified Fitness Professional.