Conferences and meetings are usually thought of as sedentary events, as they require attendees to spend hours sitting down in enclosed spaces. Professionals in the events industry make significant efforts to create memorable events, but the health and well-being perspective often gets overlooked. In this post, we suggest five ways to ensure your next event promotes wellness and has a valuable impact on participants.

1. Incorporate Wellness Into The Event’s Programme

The first step to a healthy conference involves ensuring the programme provides enough breaks and offers suggestions on how to use them healthily. Medical studies confirm that exercise is essential for correct brain functioning, and it is also proven to boost energy levels and improve memory. In other words, if you want to make sure that event participants stay alert and focused, including some physical exercises are the way to go.

Ideally, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the programme, and give handouts during breaks with exercise / stretching routines that can be quickly done on-site. Another suggestion is to plan breakout sessions after the most important speeches and include an active element in those sessions. You can also add active icebreakers as part of the opening session and organise social events that involve physical activity (e.g., dancing, fun runs, etc.).

2. Healthy Venues For Healthy Events

Venue choice can make or break your efforts to organise a healthy conference. A good starting point is to choose a venue that meets the Healthy Venue criteria, and that offers easy access to walking, cycling, and running routes. Once inside the venue, use signage to encourage an active approach, for example by suggesting to use the stairs instead of the lift, offering suggestions for active breaks, and pointing to dedicated relaxation, yoga, tai-chi, or stretching rooms.

Related: 5 Tips For Effective Venue Sourcing For Your Next Conference

Moreover, the venue should be furnished in a way that doesn’t make people feel self-conscious if they want to stand instead of sitting down. Set some standing desks or tables where they don’t block the view of others and encourage attendees to alternate between sitting and standing. Lighting also plays a role. Natural light helps us feel awake and remember information more efficiently and can be complemented by dimmable lights that are adjusted depending on the time of the day and outside weather conditions.

Lastly, ensure the temperature is set at a comfortable range and choose a venue where it’s easy to get fresh air at balconies, patios, or decks. If the weather allows it, set up picnic benches in outdoor areas as an alternative to indoor dining.

3. Catering Options For A Healthy Conference

You’re probably familiar with the need to doze off after a meal — that’s not what you want to happen during conferences. To avoid this, ensure catering options provide a constant source of energy without the dreaded sugar crash, by including snacks nuts, dried and fresh fruit, raw energy balls, protein bars, and whole-grain based meals with leans meats or vegetarian options, all of which are nutritious and easy to digest.

Related: 4 Tips To Avoid Food Waste At A Conference or Event

Pay attention to salt, sugar, and fried or processed foods, and offer healthy alternatives like low-sodium salad dressing, sugar-free fruit juice, infused water, and plant-based or low-fat milk. It’s also a good idea to give as much information as possible about the food options offered (e.g., calories, ingredients), so participants can make the best choices for their needs. And since many event attendees will not be familiar with the dining options in the city where the event is held, it would be a nice touch to include a list of local healthy eating venues in their welcome package.

4. Green Strategies For Sustainable Events

Health and sustainability go hand in hand, so a green event strategy is something to consider. If a zero-waste event is not possible straight away, you can always reduce overall waste by choosing biodegradable or recyclable items, ensuring organic waste is composted, and selecting suppliers who are environmentally conscious.

Related: Climate-Friendly Conference: What You Need to Know

Event giveaways can also be environmentally friendly. Your event freebies can include reusable bags, BPA-free lunch boxes or water bottles, reusable cutlery sets, organic fair trade tea, or even a pedometer — basically anything that shows you care about attendees and the environment.

5. Make It Part Of The Culture

Events can have a distinct culture, so why not bring well-being into it? Before the event, build buzz around your event strategy by spreading positive messages about healthy living, sharing what you are doing to create a healthy event, or asking attendees for their input via social media. You can also use social networks and the event’s website to make participants aware of your healthy meeting pledge or resolution.

Conclusion

Although there’s increasing awareness about the role wellness plays into meetings and conferences, healthy events are still not the norm. This means you have a fantastic opportunity to stand out as an organiser and to show that your commitment to well-being brings real value and lifelong benefits to all participants.

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Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 33 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.

If you wish to receive additional information about Congrex Switzerland, please feel free to contact us.

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