When you add up the abundance of sugary snacks, the long hours, and the extended periods of time spent sitting, one thing's clear: Meetings traditionally have not been very healthy. By being a little more mindful, however, meeting planners and attendees alike can make events easier on their bodies, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon, best-selling author, and host of the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz Show. Here, his top 10 tips for healthier meetings:
10. 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," explains Dr. Oz.
9. Pack a Scarf
"I use it to shelter my nose and face on flights," Dr. Oz divulges.
8. Take a Supplement Before a Flight
"It's not the person sitting next to you that is the problem. Due to the airflow on an airplane, it is the person diagonally in front of you who can infect you," says Dr. Oz.
7. Pop an Aspirin Before a Long Flight
Long periods of sitting put more people at risk for pulmonary embolus. Dr. Oz pops an aspirin before the flight to help prevent this.
6. Bypass Alcohol
"Many will drink more at conventions but it's important to remember you are there to meet people," says Dr. Oz. "Don't be a two-fisted eater and drinker. Keep one hand free to shake hands."
5. Fight Traveler's Constipation
Changes in diet and normal daily routine can lead to constipation. Supplement your diet when attending meetings with fiber and drink plenty of water.
4. Avoid Jet Lag
Melatonin, a natural, non-addicting hormone supplement, will help with jet lag, shifting the brain to the new time zone. 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.
3. Make Activity Fun
"Encourage your attendees to take the stairs for events hosted in convention centers," says Dr. Oz. "Not only does this get people moving, but it gives them a chance to bump into each other in the stairwell."
2. Choose Healthy Food Options
"I used to joke I'd go trolling for patients at the food tables at meetings and conferences. This isn't the case today," says Dr. Oz, who offers the following food tips:
• Consider high-protein options instead of sugary, empty-calorie offerings. Dr. Oz uses the offices of Google as an example; healthy food choices are not only abundant, but showcased.
• Granola bars are the sweetest items that should be offered during a meeting break.
• Warm lemon juice that gets the gastric juices and intestines flowing is the best way to start the day. Save the coffee for about an hour later.
• Breakfast should be protein-packed. "I don't know why more protein shakes aren't offered during meetings," Dr. Oz laments. Eggs or Greek yogurt are also good options.
• Dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa counts as a health food. Pass on milk chocolate, though.
• Finally, go nuts, as nuts are snacks that are rich in nutrients and help reduce hunger. (And remember: Peanuts are actually legumes.)
1. Get Enough Sleep
"The sleep epidemic is the single biggest health problem in America. It is contributing to many other health problems," explains Dr. Oz, who says meeting planners must leave room on an agenda for attendees to get at least eight hours of shuteye. "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."
Many don't realize that sleep is a barometer of how you are living your life. If you are 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.
More tips on planning healthy meetings: