8 Ways to Keep Attendees Healthy

Making wellness part of your meeting is a winning strategy

8 Ways Attendees Healthy opener

Last fall, national retailer Target Corp. kicked off its annual meeting in Minneapolis with a thoughtful gift for not only the 13,000 executives and store managers in attendance, but all 365,000 employees company-wide: Fitbit fitness trackers. This was the perfect vehicle to communicate Target's new focus on wellness, an initiative aimed at promoting healthy eating and active living among its employees.

"It is important to keep employees healthy and engaged not only at work, but at meetings and conferences as well," says Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon, best-selling author, and host of the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz Show. "Company updates and networking are all important functions of meetings, but so is demonstrating meaningful change that can be made in one's life."

A meeting presents an opportunity to instill wisdom that can lead to real transformation in people's lives, says Dr. Oz. "When people are out of their normal environment, they are very receptive to new ideas if they are presented properly," he adds. "Preaching is not the answer, but finding an emotional hook is."

Here are eight ways to introduce healthy living habits at meetings, initiatives that attendees will continue to practice long after the event is over.


1. Gamify Fitness
Kat Bolin, a Charlotte, NC-based corporate events manager, recently planned a meeting for a company in the retail industry at the Hyatt Regency Orlando that used gamification to get her 1,400 attendees moving. Similar to Target, all were given Fitbits.

"Not only was this a wellness initiative, but it was a great way to build team camaraderie," says Bolin. "We split the group into eight teams and had them compete to see which group could compile the most steps."  Throughout the conference, Bolin sent out push notifications through the meeting's event app, with team rankings to keep it top-of-mind. Bolin emphasizes that activity like this boosts endorphins and "gives them an energy boost during your conference."

Fitbits also proved effective as a sponsorship opportunity. Bolin points to a sponsor who was wanted of an exciting vehicle that was "not your standard dinner sponsorship." Rolling out the wellness program with Fitbits was a way for the sponsor to get increased visibility not only throughout the conference, but post-event, when the attendees headed home wearing their Fitbits.

Bolin says that new health challenges are created on a regular basis to keep attendees focused on living healthy and engaged with the device (as well as the sponsor's logo).


2. Let Attendees Sleep
"The sleep epidemic is the single biggest health problem in America," says Dr. Oz. "It is contributing to many other health problems."  Meeting planners must leave room in an agenda for attendees to get at least eight hours of shuteye, advises Dr. Oz. "Don't make your attendees feel guilty about this. Remember, if they don't sleep enough, they will not absorb information or be as creative," he says. "Sleep is a barometer of how you live your life. If you're stressed out and can't slow your mind down to get proper sleep, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your life."

Plus, lack of sleep drives high blood pressure, cancer rates, and obesity, Dr. Oz adds.


3. Create Exercise Events
Fitness was encouraged throughout Bolin's conference by offering Zumba classes, group outdoor runs, personal trainers, and even a flash mob that led an exercise class. "I personally tracked 200,000 steps running this conference," Bolin says.

 

Hyatt's own Global Summit, also held recently at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, brought together a group of 800 general managers from 51 countries. Many in attendance were runners, so three early-morning runs of varying distance found Hyatt general managers leading the pack. "Fostering connections is so important, and this was a great, healthy way to do that," notes Cornelia Jung, senior director of events at the property. Yoga, indoor cycling, and boot-camp classes were also planned for the group.


4. Exercise During Presentations
Having a group exercise briefly during a breakout session can be a good thing. "Blood-flow to our brains starts to decline within ten minutes of sitting still," says Adrian Segar, who designs and facilitates participant-driven/participation-rich meetings and is the author of Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love and The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action. (See sidebar Burn While They Learn) "Any kind of movement you introduce into sessions helps to boost alertness back to the level present when people first sat down."


5. Eat Healthy
"I used to joke that I'd go trolling for patients at the food tables at meetings and conferences," says Dr. Oz. "This isn't the case today. When I go to conferences, more often than not I see that high-protein options have replaced sugary, empty-calorie offerings."

Dr. Oz says that granola bars should be the sweetest item offered during a meeting break. Warm lemon juice, which gets the gastric juices and intestines flowing, is the best way to start the day, he says. Save the coffee for about an hour later. And he thinks breakfast should be protein-packed. "I don't know why more protein shakes aren't offered during meetings," he says. "Eggs or Greek yogurt provide good options."

Dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa counts as a health food, says Dr. Oz. Pass on milk chocolate, though. And feel free to go nuts, as they are rich in nutrients and help reduce hunger. (Remember, peanuts are actually legumes.)

No Danish dared show its glazed contours during conference breaks at the event Bolin planned for her retail group. "They were replaced with trail mixes, hummus, and other protein-powered snacks. We couldn't hand out activity trackers and then serve junk food," she says.

In addition to competition updates, fitness and weight-loss tips were also distributed to the group through the conference app.


6. Make Attendees Beverage-Conscious
It's important that attendees be mindful of what they drink at meetings. Dr. Oz recommends bypassing alcohol. "Many people will drink more at meetings, especially trade shows and conventions, but it's important to remind them that they are there to meet people and gather information," he says. "Don't be a two-fisted eater and drinker. Keep one hand free to shake hands."

Dr. Oz also warns that changes in diet and normal daily routine can lead to constipation. "Alcohol only makes that worse, so attendees should supplement their diets with fiber and drink plenty of water."


7. Customize Spa Activities
"Each person is unique, and spa treatments should be created accordingly," says Dr. Oz. "We shouldn't pretend we are all the same when we are not. My patients wouldn't want me to operate on each in exactly the same way."

Allowing a guest to customize his or her time at the spa allows for an individualized experience. "Customization is about allowing the spa-goer to drive the choices available to them, not trying to cookie-cut what they might need," says Lynne McNees, president of the Lexington, KY-based International Spa Association (ISPA). "Additionally, 71 percent of spas offer treatments of 30 minutes or less to ensure there is something available for everyone, even if they only have 30 minutes."

In addition, spa-goers increasingly are having the opportunity to create their own scrubs and lotions. The Spa At L'Auberge, situated in the red-rock splendor of Sedona, AZ, features L'Apothecary, where guests can make their own pampering mixes infused with local herbs, flowers, and botanicals, including rosemary, juniper, and Sedona pinion.


8. Spa for Health, Not Luxury
Many resorts now supplement their traditional massage options, where the goal is to pamper the recipient with treatments and programs that focus on improving health.

 

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, a hotel and spa-management company, recently introduced "Six Senses Integrated Wellness," a program that was developed over the last two years by working with doctors and wellness professionals, including Dr. Oz. It involves in-house experts who measure and analyze key physiological biomarkers to provide lifestyle and nutritional advice and design personalized programs of spa treatments, fitness, and wellness activities.

Aimia, a loyalty-management company, recently planned an incentive program at the Calistoga Ranch in California that focused on health and wellness. Aimia reached out to Andrea von Behren, R.D., owner of the Body Language Fitness & Yoga Center in Commerce, MI, to lead the group in yoga and Zumba each morning. Her ability to offer a holistic approach to wellness through her training as a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and certified fitness instructor was just what Aimia wanted for the group.

"Participation in these events was outstanding, further illustrating that health and wellness should continue to be a top priority when planning incentive programs," says Tina Gaccetta, vice president of client services for Aimia.

This healthy addition to the incentive program was well received by the attendees. "Participants voiced a desire to continue focusing more on their wellness when they headed back home as a result of their positive experience with us," says von Behren.

The more a meeting program gets attendees to practice healthy living, the greater chance they will be more productive employees back in the office. "A meeting provides a powerful platform to help instill change in the lives of attendees," says Dr. Oz. "It isn't complicated. Living a healthy life defines the core of an individual, and that touches every part of his or her life."  



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the February 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.

5 Tips for Flying Healthy, From Dr. Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon, best-selling author, and host of the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz Show, offers these five tips to keeping healthy while flying to a meeting.
 

1. Pop an Aspirin Before a Long Flight 
Long periods of sitting put more people at risk for pulmonary embolism. Dr. Oz pops an aspirin before a flight to help prevent this.
 

2. Take a Vitamin Supplement Before a Flight 
A vitamin supplement will help your immune system cope with the re-circulated air. "It's not the person sitting next to you that is the problem," says Dr. Oz. "Due to the airflow on an airplane, the person diagonally in front of you can infect you."


3. Have a Jet Lag Strategy 
Melatonin will help, shifting the brain to the new time zone. And use light as your ally. If you expose yourself to light first thing in the morning, it will set your circadian rhythm. Stay up for the next 14 to 16 hours and you will soon be back in rhythm.
 

4. Pack a Scarf 
"I use it to shelter my nose and face on flights," Dr. Oz says.
 

5. Sanitize Your Hands 
Pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it often. "I use it before I am going to be shaking a lot of hands," notes Dr. Oz.


5. Eat Healthy
"I used to joke that I'd go trolling for patients at the food tables at meetings and conferences," says Dr. Oz. "This isn't the case today. When I go to conferences, more often than not I see that high-protein options have replaced sugary, empty-calorie offerings."

Dr. Oz says that granola bars should be the sweetest item offered during a meeting break. Warm lemon juice, which gets the gastric juices and intestines flowing, is the best way to start the day, he says. Save the coffee for about an hour later. And he thinks breakfast should be protein-packed. "I don't know why more protein shakes aren't offered during meetings," he says. "Eggs or Greek yogurt provide good options."

Dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa counts as a health food, says Dr. Oz. Pass on milk chocolate, though. And feel free to go nuts, as they are rich in nutrients and help reduce hunger. (Remember, peanuts are actually legumes.)

No Danish dared show its glazed contours during conference breaks at the event Bolin planned for her retail group. "They were replaced with trail mixes, hummus, and other protein-powered snacks. We couldn't hand out activity trackers and then serve junk food," she says.

In addition to competition updates, fitness and weight-loss tips were also distributed to the group through the conference app.


6. Make Attendees Beverage-Conscious
It's important that attendees be mindful of what they drink at meetings. Dr. Oz recommends bypassing alcohol. "Many people will drink more at meetings, especially trade shows and conventions, but it's important to remind them that they are there to meet people and gather information," he says. "Don't be a two-fisted eater and drinker. Keep one hand free to shake hands."

Dr. Oz also warns that changes in diet and normal daily routine can lead to constipation. "Alcohol only makes that worse, so attendees should supplement their diets with fiber and drink plenty of water."


7. Customize Spa Activities
"Each person is unique, and spa treatments should be created accordingly," says Dr. Oz. "We shouldn't pretend we are all the same when we are not. My patients wouldn't want me to operate on each in exactly the same way."

Allowing a guest to customize his or her time at the spa allows for an individualized experience. "Customization is about allowing the spa-goer to drive the choices available to them, not trying to cookie-cut what they might need," says Lynne McNees, president of the Lexington, KY-based International Spa Association (ISPA). "Additionally, 71 percent of spas offer treatments of 30 minutes or less to ensure there is something available for everyone, even if they only have 30 minutes."

In addition, spa-goers increasingly are having the opportunity to create their own scrubs and lotions. The Spa At L'Auberge, situated in the red-rock splendor of Sedona, AZ, features L'Apothecary, where guests can make their own pampering mixes infused with local herbs, flowers, and botanicals, including rosemary, juniper, and Sedona pinion.


8. Spa for Health, Not Luxury
Many resorts now supplement their traditional massage options, where the goal is to pamper the recipient with treatments and programs that focus on improving health.

 

Massages and other spa treatments
are effective meeting breaks
Massages and other spa treatments are effective meeting breaks

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, a hotel and spa-management company, recently introduced "Six Senses Integrated Wellness," a program that was developed over the last two years by working with doctors and wellness professionals, including Dr. Oz. It involves in-house experts who measure and analyze key physiological biomarkers to provide lifestyle and nutritional advice and design personalized programs of spa treatments, fitness, and wellness activities.

Aimia, a loyalty-management company, recently planned an incentive program at the Calistoga Ranch in California that focused on health and wellness. Aimia reached out to Andrea von Behren, R.D., owner of the Body Language Fitness & Yoga Center in Commerce, MI, to lead the group in yoga and Zumba each morning. Her ability to offer a holistic approach to wellness through her training as a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and certified fitness instructor was just what Aimia wanted for the group.

"Participation in these events was outstanding, further illustrating that health and wellness should continue to be a top priority when planning incentive programs," says Tina Gaccetta, vice president of client services for Aimia.

This healthy addition to the incentive program was well received by the attendees. "Participants voiced a desire to continue focusing more on their wellness when they headed back home as a result of their positive experience with us," says von Behren.

The more a meeting program gets attendees to practice healthy living, the greater chance they will be more productive employees back in the office. "A meeting provides a powerful platform to help instill change in the lives of attendees," says Dr. Oz. "It isn't complicated. Living a healthy life defines the core of an individual, and that touches every part of his or her life."  



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the February 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.