So you’ve made it through the first two months of 2016, sticking to your exercise and healthy eating goals – way to go, champ! You make your lunch four days a week instead of heading down to the nearest deep-fried or MSG-infused option in your office building, you walk up the stairs from the train station, you choose healthy snacks instead of that tempting sugar-glazed donut during that 3pm lull. You are going to absolutely crush those 2016 goals!

But that annual conference is just around the corner… and you’re dreading the sweet, sweet temptation of muffins and banana chocolate chip loaves staring you in the face at every break. You can hear the cocktail parties taunting you, and your workout routine has already begun its Dear John letter. How on earth are you going to make it through and stick to your goals to carry on as the health champion you’ve become?

We’ve all heard the sayings “sitting is the new smoking”, “you are what you eat”, “an apple a day”… etc, etc. But what are we actually doing to incorporate healthy options and create a culture of health and wellness in our meetings and conferences? How are we supporting healthier choices amongst attendees?

It’s really not as hard as you think to build this culture of health and wellness into your convention schedule. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Ensure healthier food options are available, attractively presented, appealing and taste good.
  • Insist on customizing your conference menu to include healthy options, and obtain and post nutritional information.
  • Or, consider not serving food at breaks that are not mealtimes; instead, provide physical activity or substitute fruit smoothies for high sugar loaves and pastries.
  • Offer physical activity opportunities that are relevant to the audience and environment, such as stretch breaks instead of coffee breaks or standing meetings.
  • Provide networking opportunities within the schedule in the form of exercise classes, morning runs or walks, or stretch breaks. Have you heard? “Sweatworking” is the new networking.
  • Select hotels with fitness centres for your room block and ensure complimentary access is a required concession.
  • Choose a walkable destination for your next meeting. Here’s a good resource to get you started: www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/
  • Include walking distances and times on housing options website and other conference materials to promote walking to and from meetings.
  • Offer active tours and excursions pre- and post-meeting and within the program.
  • Embed a step counter into delegate badges. Or, hand them out in registration packages and encourage a little healthy competition!
  • Sub in exercise balls for chairs in your meeting space.

Did we miss something that you are already doing to support a healthy culture for your meetings? Tell us about it at @meetvancouver!

For more tips and help with building a business case to make the necessary changes to your next meeting, check out the following resources: