Kristin M. Garner1, Maci Angles1, Kaitlin Gallagher1, & Erin K. Howie1

1University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Physical inactivity in the workplace is a major contributor to low daily physical activity levels. A common fear of being active at work is loss of productivity; however, a potential resolution may be found in walking meetings. Ideal candidates for testing their feasibility are workers with primarily meeting-based schedules, like academic advisors. Additionally, walking meetings with students may also foster stronger advisor-student connections and encourage students to be active. PURPOSE: To assess the feasibility, including the facilitators and barriers, of walking advising meetings. METHODS: Using a randomized, crossover feasibility trial, a convenience sample of academic advisors working at a large, mid-South university were encouraged to complete walking advising meetings with first-year students. Academic advisors participated for two weeks each and were randomly assigned one control week and one intervention week. During the intervention week, advisors asked students upon arrival if they would like to walk while meeting. Mental health, advising schedule, and job satisfaction were reported at baseline, daily and weekly during both conditions. Advisors wore an accelerometer during work hours for both weeks. Interviews were conducted following the participation period to explore the advisors’ experience and were thematically analyzed. RESULTS: Five (60% female) advisors participated in the study. Of the 60 total first-year advising meetings, ten were done as a walking meeting. Barriers to walking advising meetings were preparatory time, weather, indoor preference, and virtual meetings. Participants completed 67.2 (SD 25.4) minutes of light physical activity per day during the control week compared to 70.0 (18.8) minutes of light physical activity per day during the intervention weeks. There were no differences in mental health scores measured between condition weeks. CONCLUSION: Support beyond the individual worker is needed for conducting walking meetings, especially in university settings. Efforts to create university and workplace cultures accepting of physical activity should target multiple levels of the institution to reduce perceived barriers and encourage regular activity.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This study was made possible by the University of Arkansas Honors College.

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