A healthy and active attendee is a happy attendee! Health and wellness is now something that can’t be ignored when planning meetings and conferences. With a growing knowledge and appreciation for wellness, people are becoming more mindful of what they eat, how sedentary they are during meetings, and generally how active they can be. Wellness and active lifestyles is becoming a necessity when planning conferences, rather than a “nice-to-have”.
According to Sean Anderson, Vice President of Operations at Sodexo, “wellness has a positive impact on the mind. Offering your attendees, the choice of healthier meal options, fitness sessions and personal time during a conference will result in more focused and alert attendees.”
Following a few simple steps can help participants be more healthy, happy and ultimately productive when attending your event.
Step 1: Food and Beverage
When choosing breakfast, lunch, dinner menus and snacks, choose the healthier option because it will keep your attendees focused throughout the day. Some healthier food options you can include are assorted nut and granola stations, seasonal fruit salad, grilled vegetable platters or “make your own” salad buffet. Also, be sure to choose dishes with healthy fats such as a pesto orzo and red pepper salad with plum tomatoes and fresh basil.
During what we traditionally call a “coffee break,” be sure to provide other options such as infused water stations, cold herbal teas and smoothies. Caffeine will give attendees a short boost of energy they may need at the time of break, but healthier options will keep them alert and energized for the entire day!
Step 2: Mood
Usually there is little time throughout a conference program to allow for attendees to have “personal time”, but this is very important to include in a conference schedule. Attendees will become restless throughout the day if they must sit in a darkened room listening to one-way communication, and no time to assess and decompress.
When booking meeting space for a conference, consider adding an extra breakout room and offering it to attendees as a quiet or meditation room for the duration of the conference. Allow attendees the opportunity to take a little time between sessions to take a breath and take in all that they have learned so far.
Also consider keeping spirits alive during a conference with natural lighting instead of all rooms having ballroom and stage lights. Research shows that Vitamin D deficiency can result in general tiredness, aches and pains and a lack of alertness.
More and more conference planners are incorporating meditation and stretching right in the meeting agenda. Taking five minutes before or after breaks to get the blood flowing and focus the mind will do wonders for the engagement of the participant.
Another great suggestion to lighten the mood for all attendees is to include animals therapy during breaks. Ask the local SPCA or animal shelter if they can provide dogs, cats or rabbits for interaction during the meeting breaks. Engaging with animals is one of the best ways to provide calming and positive energy. Having your participants play with puppies or kittens during break will have them laughing and smiling when returning to the meeting room.
Step 3: Fitness
The biggest challenge when providing healthier choices for conference attendees is incorporating physical activity into the agenda. When people break from their routine, to travel for meetings and conferences, they tend to eat and drink more and do not time for exercise.
There are a lot of ways you can offer attendees the opportunity to “fit” fitness into their conference day, but knowing your demographic is key to catering to their needs.
During your conference, you can offer attendees on-demand fitness breaks with Exercise Bytes, a program that gets attendees out of their chairs and moving! Sitting too much can cause muscles to become stiff and energy levels and alertness to plummet. Either mid-morning or afternoon put on a 5 minute Exercise Bytes sweat–free video to help recharge bodies and minds!
Yoga is also a fantastic way to help clear minds and stretch muscles. Add a 30-minute yoga session before breakfast. Yoga stimulates joint and muscle circulation which will leave attendees feeling fresh and revitalized. After the yoga session, you can offer a refreshing smoothie made with local and organic ingredients!
Furthermore, instead of bus transfers to and from places, consider closer dinner options and have groups walk to their evening destinations. Not only is walking a natural form of exercise, but people can walk and talk making it a great networking opportunity!
It is that easy! Three simple steps to becoming a Wellness Warrior and you can encourage conference attendees to take part in staying healthy as well!