Beyond The 5K: Health & Wellness Strategies For Your Conference

We’re all well aware of the importance of keeping healthy routines, but that can be challenging when we’re away from home. A 2017 global survey by Hilton found that more than half of meeting attendees admit to falling off of their workout and nutrition regimens when they’re traveling for business, but they all want to maintain their healthy habits even when they’re on the road. Here’s where the event producer comes in! Your goal is to ensure that your clients and attendees are taken care of in every aspect. We’ve all had the experience of going into a presentation or breakout session feeling awake but finding ourselves drifting off halfway through, right? That’s not just me? Wellness activities offer more than a burst of energy and endorphins. They also help participants stay mentally focused and present during the sedentary portions of the conference. That just leaves the question of what kind of activities you should offer. The possibilities are almost endless, and out-of-the-box thinking is always a good idea. Although the morning fun run has become an industry standard, why not offer something they might not be expecting?

Settle their minds with some Yoga

Yoga is always an excellent choice for large group activities. All your attendees will need is comfortable clothes, and the intensity of the class can be as easy or as challenging as you want. Just make sure you talk it over with the instructor beforehand!
Many yoga instructors can teach a high-energy morning class that will get your participants’ blood flowing at least as well as a 5K, but you could also schedule a more relaxing class as a healthy evening wind-down.
Not all of your people will be interested in the usual cocktail hour, and many will no doubt appreciate this healthier option. A meditation session can be a good and unexpected end-of-day activity as well.

Get your guests engaged with gamification

Another fun option is to gamify your entire conference: distribute Fitbits or some other kind of pedometer, divide attendees into teams, and have them compete for who can get the most steps over the course of your event. Periodic push notifications through your event app can show team rankings and keep the activity top-of-mind, and ensuring a mix of strangers on each team will help promote networking and socializing. Chances are good that your participants are the kind of people who enjoy a friendly competition, and creating opportunities for attendees to step out of the comfort zones of their friend groups can have far-reaching benefits.

Think outside the breakout room

Take some inspiration from dot-com startups and remember that a little levity is never a bad idea, especially as an icebreaker or a tactic for staving off the mid-day slump. Turn a breakout room into a playground with hula hoops, jump ropes, or dodgeballs, or schedule a large-scale Zumba class. Psychologist Rene Proyer, whose research specialty is adult playfulness, has found that playful people excel academically and are less likely to encounter stress in their lives. Low stress and high-level thinking are exactly what we want to achieve with our events, so encourage your attendees to get a little goofy and watch them reap those hidden benefits. It’s always worth remembering that planning a wellness event doesn’t have to be all on your shoulders. Take advantage of your host site’s knowledge and inquire as to whether they offer a specialty wellness program, or can recommend something local. Maybe your resort has an excellent golf course, or your concierge knows of a well-loved fitness professional who would enjoy coming in to lead a class. Every city has activities that make it special, and finding a way to incorporate those activities will help make your event just as special.

Don’t forget meals and snacks!

You don’t want to get your attendees’ blood moving just to slow it back down with a lot of heavy or fried foods. Of course you don’t have to limit everyone to a weekend full of salad bars, but a good balance of healthy options and treats will be very much appreciated. On a similar theme, manage the schedule so that everyone who wants to can get 7 hours of sleep. We all function better when we’re well-rested, and event weekends are already enough of an interruption without adding a guaranteed lack of sleep into the mix.
Ultimately, a good conference is more than just presentations. You already know that your equipment and facilities are on point, and taking the same amount of care to ensure that attendees can periodically break away from the event and avoid mental overload will pay off enormously. Remember to take care of participants physically as well as mentally, and not only will you ensure that they’ll leave happy, you’ll know that they’ll keep coming back year after year.