Energizer: Conference Setting

You have heard it before: sitting is the new smoking. Increasingly, research is focusing on sedentary behaviour as a distinct risk factor for a number of chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer as well as premature death. It seems that meeting, or exceeding, physical activity guidelines does not negate the amount of sitting one does in a day in terms of increased morbidity and mortality.1

Sedentary behaviour is defined as “as any waking behaviour characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 METs while in a sitting or reclining posture”.2

Since for many Canadians, work involves sitting at a desk for much of the day, the workplace should be a priority setting to find ways to decrease sedentary behaviour. One way to do that is to introduce energizers throughout the course of the day. In this first blog dedicated to the workplace, we will provide an energizer that can be done in a conference setting; given this is prime conference season.

In choosing any type of energizer, it is important to ensure that all those involved feel comfortable to participate, based on their ability, fitness level and clothing (suits, high heeled shoes, etc.).

The energizer can take place:

  • At the beginning of the conference to act as an ice-breaker as well as to get people energized
  • After an hour of sitting
  • Directly before a nutrition break and/or lunch
  • At any point that you feel the energy level is getting low in the room (other than in the middle of someone’s presentation, although, it may help!)

Energizer: Rock, Paper Scissors3

Though an oldie, it is still a goodie. The main reason we like Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) is because some people may have grown up with the game, so they are familiar with how to play which also makes it less intimidating. In this version, everyone remains active, even if they lose their challenge. Here’s how to make it work:

Space: Use the whole room. Participants can walk around the tables and chairs. If there is a foyer as part of the meeting space, and the time to move to the other room, you can also direct people there.

Supplies/Equipment: None. Just a microphone to describe the activity. Oh, and key to all of this: Rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, paper beats rock.

Get Moving:

  1. Participants start by walking (skipping, dancing, “swimming”, “skiing”, any other movement) over to a person on the opposite side of the room. Having introduced themselves, the participants play Rock, Paper, Scissors.
  2. The ‘losers’ of each of the matches get behind the ‘winners’ and, together, they move towards the next pair. The person in the lead (the winner), plays the winner of the next pair. Again, the losers of that match, join the winning pair and go in search of their next challenge.
  3. The game continues until there is one winner (with a long line of people behind them) or for as long as time allows.
  4. RPS works well for people using a variety of mobility devices or with other disabilities (for example, someone with a visual impairment can pair up with another participant).
  5. For a smaller group, you can use music and have people moving around until the music stops and then they find their next match.

1Sedentary Behaviour Research Network. (2012). Standardized use of the terms “sedentary” and “sedentary behaviours”. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 37: 540–542. Retrieved from: www.sedentarybehaviour.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Letter-APNM-2012.pdf.


3Adapted from Why Paper and Scissors Rock, CIRA Ontario; http://www.ciraontario.com/rockpaperscissorsrps.