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Ensuring the Health of Wellbeing of Meeting Attendees

Wellness and Event Attendees

Wellness within the meeting and event industry can be a double-edged sword. Meeting professionals plan experiences that encourage attendee wellbeing, yet their own healthy habits can be an afterthought due to the rigorous travel and daily stress that often come with events.

We spoke with three health experts about how meeting professionals can stay well while remaining on top of their game.

Craig Cristello, exercise physiologist at the Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale (Ariz.) Princess, says hydration can be an issue while traveling.

“I think the most important thing anyone can do to stay healthy while traveling is to stay properly hydrated,” he says. “Most people don’t consume enough fluids.”

Cristello says the preferred method is to convert half your body weight to ounces and aim for that amount of liquid intake (excluding caffeine and alcohol). He says some studies have suggested that this can boost your metabolic rate (the rate your body burns calories) by 15 percent to 30 percent.

Sienna Creasy, group spa director with the Jewel Grande Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, Jamaica, agrees with staying hydrated while flying and suggests a simple solution.

“When you travel in the air, your whole system dries up and is craving water and oil,” she says. “Warm lemon water or herbal tea [will keep you] hydrated, and add honey for extra benefits.”

Lemon Water and Tea

Megan Linney, spa director at The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being in Las Vegas, says that getting adjusted to local time (even on short trips) and grabbing something to eat while traveling is key.

“Remember to eat, even if only snacks,” she says. “This helps you to maintain your energy level and avoid crashing at critical moments in your day.”

When it comes to keeping attendees fueled, Cristello has found that chicken lettuce wraps and smoothies are popular items and that adding vegetable platters with different types of hummus can provide variety.

Creasy says snacks can be kept simple and can even reflect the event itself.

“Make sure whatever you give attendees does not need a plate or utensil,” she says. “Opt for mini power bites (oatmeal, nuts and dried fruit) or have the host location create a signature power snack that can tie into the event theme.”

Creasy says that same simplicity can also be combined with local flavors at meal time.

“Make sure the main dish is nourishing and rich in fiber. Serve a light, vegetable-based soup and offer a make-your-own tossed salad bar,” she says. “Whether buffet style or plated, ensure you tie in the local fare and connect with the chef on site for the location’s most popular dish.”

For meeting professionals always on the go behind the scenes, nutrition is just as important but doesn’t have to suffer due to a busy schedule. All three experts agree that a little crunch, protein and preparation can go a long way.

Event Snacks

“I choose nuts as my go-to snack because the crunch is a great stress reliever, there is little mess, no smell and the quick protein and healthy fats are always welcome,” Creasy says. “Have small packs of nuts in your bag or briefcase as they won’t go bad in the heat and are always an easy solution. Buy the bulk boxes of the individual packets and split them up amongst your work and travel areas.”

Cristello advocates for foods high in protein, which are harder for a body to store as fat. His suggestions include meal replacement bars, jerky (beef, chicken or salmon), tuna in either the foil packages or canned in water or a handful of almonds.

Vegetables with a “to-go dip” are a winner for extra energy, and the crunch can mentally provide some satisfaction, Linney says, with pre-blended “green drinks” made from fruits and vegetables as an additional option for a source of energy.

When it comes to managing stress, Cristillo suggests taking a high-tech approach.

“Stress is indeed rampant in our society,” he says. “Simple breathing or meditation apps can help to calm oneself immensely. The best thing about these apps is that they are guided and explain how to properly relax or breathe.”

Cristillo adds that not only are the apps free, but the exercises can be done almost anywhere.

Linney takes a more aromatic approach to dealing with stress.

“Aromatherapy support and taking ‘breath breaks’ helps to make the long hours and days possible,” she says. “The use of essential oils to calm, clarify or invigorate the mind is an easy and anywhere tool to center yourself during stressful long hours of events and travel. The best part about this is the aromatherapy blends fit right in your pocket.”

Creasy’s solution involves taking a mindful approach, mentally preparing to face the day.

“Upon waking, visualize your day and your event. Put your visualizations into writing and send out a bulleted email with all of the points you envisioned and directives you need followed,” she says. “This will help to prepare your team and make sure you don’t miss anything as all of the new challenges of an event pop up and take you off the targeted pathway.”

To get attendees’ blood moving after long sessions, laughter really can be the best medicine, Cristillo says, especially when it’s combined with yoga, as they do at the Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

“Laughter Yoga is a laughing exercise that causes the same physiological and psychological benefits as regular yoga,” he says. “Laughing on command soon turns into real and contagious laughter.”

Cristillo also suggests group-led stretching and exercises that make use of a person’s body weight, including body weight squats, dips and plank dips that can be used when the event is over and attendees return to their offices.

Linney says the Red Rock Spa by Well & Being offers “healthy breakouts” for groups that include laughing yoga and guided meditation, along with wellness lounges.le

“This is a mini spa set up for the conference where participants are able to take a quick and accessible break from the stiffness caused by sitting for long periods of time,” she says. “We can also develop a property scavenger hunt breakout to create an opportunity for the participants and staff to walk around the area and reboot their mental health along the way.”

About the Author

Jeff Loy
Jeff Loy

Digital Editor at MPI