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Well at Work

How to Stay Healthy in Long Meetings

Christopher Robbins / Thinkstock

A long meeting can derail a training and nutrition plan, especially when it takes place out of town. Sitting in a room for hours listening to presentations, even at the home office, can be even more mentally and physically taxing than dealing with airports, taxis, and hotels. Meetings need not be distractions from your healthy lifestyle. In fact, it’s possible to stay on track using a few simple strategies.

1. Stay hydrated

Meetings are a great excuse to stay hydrated. You’re stuck in one place, there usually are pitchers of water available, and drinking gives you something to do. Staying hydrated will help you maintain energy levels—always a challenge in long meetings—and also eliminate some hunger pangs that really are more the result of being thirsty. Make it a point to come to the meeting with a large bottle of water. Drinking plenty of water has another benefit: It provides a built-in excuse to take a bathroom break.

2. Take snack breaks

Ideally, your meeting will be with like-minded people who know the importance of mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacking. If so, no one will mind when you break out nuts, beef jerky, meal replacement bars, or apple slices—especially when you offer to share. If, however, this is a three-meals-a-day kind of group that’s forging ahead until the (late) lunch hour, it’s time to the take action. Excuse yourself for a bathroom break and duck somewhere for a fueling with snacks stashed in your pocket or purse.

3. Stand and deliver

Even if you’re not making a presentation, there’s no reason to sit the entire time. Offer to refill waters or distribute handouts. If it’s a more casual meeting with co-workers or well-known clients, walk to the other side of the room and stand for a moment. If someone is writing notes on a whiteboard, you’ll look contemplative, as if you’re pondering the discussion from another angle and not just keeping your hips from locking up.

4. Reaffirm your training

These days, it’s expected that people come to meetings with laptops and iPads. When the presentation drones on, take a quick moment to peruse your upcoming training schedule or, if you’re so inclined, log your nutrition, including those healthy snacks you just consumed. You’ll feel great that you’ve stayed on top of your performance, especially on the road, and aren’t just enduring another day of marathon meetings.

5. Wake up your muscles

A marathon meeting will likely cut into your workout time, but there’s no reason you can’t activate your muscles while enduring the PowerPoint from hell. Start with your glutes, which are taking a beating from you sitting on them. Alternate between activating (squeezing) your left and right cheeks. There’s no limit to how many of these you can do, but think in terms of doing a set of 10 every 30 minutes. Next let's move to the core region. Draw your belly button in away from your belt buckle. This is not the same as sucking in your gut and holding your breath. Simply pull your belly button in. Do a set of 10 every 30 minutes.

6. Reset your posture

It’s unlikely anyone will notice you activating your glutes or core. It takes a little more discretion to activate your shoulders, which probably have slumped forward from sitting so long. Reset your posture every 15 minutes, and when you do so, squeeze the shoulder blades back and down as if trying to draw them into your back pockets. By activating the glutes, core, and shoulders, you’ll counteract the forces pushing your body into a hunched over position. It will also prepare you for another few hours of sitting in the event you have a flight after the meeting.

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About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Health, Work, Planning