There are initiatives galore to get people exercising under work time, TU/e researcher Ida Damen states. The drawback, though, she adds, is that in most cases these initiatives call for an interruption or break. “I think it would be more useful if you can really integrate exercise into your work.”
Damen is in the second year of her PhD track at the TU/e Department of Industrial Design, in cooperation with the Department of the Built Environment. For her research she focuses on increasing the vitality of office staff; one of the first studies in this context is the TU/e Workwalk.
For this purpose a roughly two-kilometer-long blue line will be ‘rolled out’ across the TU/e site at the beginning of May. A walk along the whole line, which mainly follows the Groene Loper, takes some twenty-five minutes. That fact is an advantage, says Damen, “as a result you don’t need to check your watch all the time during the meeting. Nor do you need to explain where people have to turn left or right, you just follow the line”.
In addition, along the route the environment provides the walkers with a number of natural visual clues as to where they are. “If the pond is located halfway along the route and, once there, you still have a whole list of agenda items to tackle, you know: we have to get a move on.”
In due course the TU/e Workwalk can, just like the meeting and consultation rooms in the various university buildings, be reserved via Book My Space. A meeting or consultation can start at one of the meeting points located at the various TU/e buildings; from there participants just follow the blue line.
Damen hopes that the TU/e Workwalk will encourage people to look for some exercise outdoors more often, “also because the university facilitates it. It is just a new mode of consultation; going out briefly does not imply at all that you cannot be productive meanwhile”.
The PhD candidate does emphasize that not every type of meeting will be suitable for a walking meeting. Still, especially for ‘bilaterals’, rapid catch-ups between two or three people at the most, the Workwalk can be very handy, she thinks - as well as for ‘difficult’ conversations. “While walking outside side by side it is often easier to talk than when you are sitting opposite each other face-to-face.”
Photo on top of this page | Bart van Overbeeke
The route in pink below (click to enlarge)