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The feel-good factor

by Olivia Powell

The King’s Fund share their insight into designing healthy spaces for events.

 Health and wellness is a hot topic right now and as a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the subject, focusing on making choices tailored towards a healthy and fulfilling life. From the food we consume, the exercise we undertake and even how we look after our mental health, many of us are trying to improve our lifestyles. Studies show that smoking statistics have dropped by two million people since 2011, while Brits are drinking 10% less alcohol than they were in 1990 – new modern hedonism is the pursuit of a whole and better self.

As an independent charity working to improve health in England, we are passionate about health and wellness, which goes much deeper than how we look after ourselves at home – the workplace is just as important. After all, having a happy and healthy workforce has proven results in increased productivity, lower healthcare costs and less turnover.

When it comes to events, today’s delegates expect more than just a conference space, and more and more events are being designed with wellbeing in mind. From healthy catering to ensuring enough natural daylight, we’ve put together four ways to create a healthy space for events. 

Keep it light

Studies show that exposure to natural daylight has a multitude of benefits – being outdoors for 3 hours a week can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 35% and 34% respectively, while increasing productivity, better mood and healthier sleep. Being stuck in a dark conference room all day can be exhausting – hosting events in spaces with large windows is a simple way of maintaining engagement and keeping delegates happy.

Healthy menus

After sleep, diet is the most important factor in the pursuit for wellness. Nobody wants the dreaded post meal slump after a heavy lunch; consider plant based buffet lunches or street food stalls – fish, leafy veg, berries and nuts are all said to improve brain health, and a buffet will keep delegates moving over lunch.

As well as offering tea and coffee during breaks, ensure there is plenty of water available – the average person is between 20-40% dehydrated and even a 1% drop in hydration will result in a 12% drop in productivity – a hydrated brain is an engaged brain!

Don’t stop moving

Research undertaken by Queens University Belfast shows that sitting for longer than 6 hours at a time is now to blame for 1 in 9 deaths, as well as contributing to 17% of diabetes cases and chronic health problems such as heart disease and cancer. Advocating delegate wellness is a key element of any event, so allow plenty of time for movement, whether through increased networking time, standing sessions or a morning yoga taster to limit the amount of time spent sitting down – it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Quiet spaces

Constant social engagement can be draining, especially at busy events. Protect the mental wellbeing of your delegates by offering quiet spaces to take five minutes out of the bustle of the conference room. Low lighting, comfortable seating and signs encouraging silence all work really well in creating a peaceful environment for delegates to decompress.

It’s important to stay close to what works; don’t allow your events to be overtaken by wellness fads, but focus on the key contributing factors. Rest, hydration, nutrition, exercise and socialising are the pillars of health and wellbeing, and if you focus on them, you’re guaranteed a room full of bright eyed, bushy tailed delegates ready to fully engage with your offering.

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