Providing exercise, meditation, and healthful food options at your meetings is a great recipe for satisfied and focused attendees.

When traveling for work, most of us struggle to find the time, energy, and motivation to stick to our exercise regimen. Similarly, eating well often goes out the window when food options are limited to the onsite meeting menu and meals out with colleagues.

Most people simply accept that they will fall off the exercise or diet wagon while away, and they’ll climb back on when they get home.

So imagine how happy your members would be if your meetings gave them options to never leave the wagon?

Meetings that incorporate wellness components—from simply offering more healthful food and beverage options to organizing meditation, yoga, fitness sessions—are getting kudos from attendees.

Major bonus: The extra time and expense of offering exercise or meditation classes or planning a low-glycemic menu can pay off in terms of increased attendee participation and focus. That mind-body connection is no myth.

Meditation is Having a Moment

Meditation has made its move from the fringes to the mainstream—and into the meeting space.

It’s no secret why: Research shows that being mindful—centering the mind, being in the moment—confers a wealth of mental, social, and even physical benefits.

At your next meeting, consider offering a meditation class in the morning—or, better yet, in the afternoon as brain power begins to ebb. No need to commit to a long session, which will surely scare off the newbies anyway. Just 10 minutes of mindfulness can work wonders.

Offering Exercise Options Makes Sense

Why offer a yoga or exercise class before conference sessions begin? Exercise helps improve brain function, and many of your fitness-focused members will greatly appreciate help fitting in a workout.

Better yet, find a conference hotel that can make that happen for your group.

The Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis just began offering its AlexZENder package. The hotel is right next to a YMCA, so it’s easy for Rebecca McQuillan, the hotel’s senior conference services manager, to book a Y instructor to lead anything from a low-stress yoga class to a high-energy Zumba workout.

McQuillan started offering meeting exercise options because some groups were doing it on their own and reaping great meeting benefits. “Groups that did yoga before the meeting found that people were more open to communicating and idea-sharing, and piggy backing off each other,” she said. “What you are doing with the body and the yoga experience relates to how the brain works.”

For attendees looking for more one-on-one training or a specific type of workout, consider sending them to Trainer Push, an online service that arranges workouts for people who are travelling. Trainer Push owner Tyler Davis can work with conference organizers or individual attendees to offer health and wellness options, including yoga, meditation, personal training, group fitness classes, and massage, wherever they are in the U.S.

'Thoughtful Food for Thoughtful Minds'

High-glycemic foods, like sugar and many carbohydrates, cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving a low-energy human in its wake. Not a good recipe for engaging meeting participation.

“Planners have been interested in the food component of wellness for a while, not carb-ing and sugaring up in the later part of the day because you lose people’s concentration,” McQuillian said. The chefs at The Alexander are focused on creating entire meeting menus that combine “thoughtful food for thoughtful minds,” getting creative with farm-to-table recipes and making good use of the onsite herb garden. Healthful food can still taste great!

Your more active and health-conscious meeting attendees will greatly appreciate any efforts your meeting makes to keep them on the wellness path. And even attendees who don’t normally focus so much on what they eat or how much they move might find that a greater focus on wellness isn’t as taxing—or as boring—as they thought.