Movement at conferences: Sweden FTW!


I’m at an academic conference right now, “Children’s Rights–origins, normativity, transformations, prospects,” and it’s being held in Vadstena, Sweden at the klosterhotel, a monastery and nunnery turned spa. I love academic conferences and travel overseas for work is surely one of the perks of my job. But I hate all that sitting. First, there’s time spent of planes, trains, and automobiles. But next up is all the time sitting at the venue itself. I’ve complained before that academic conferences can be sitting marathons.

And I’ve written too about my individual effort to sneak in some exercise when I travel for work. See Hiking and biking on the academic talk circuit

Lately I’ve been curious just how inactive I am at conferences. Friends at Western, including Tracy, are involved in a global corporate challenge which involves wearing fitness trackers and counting steps. I don’t feel left out but have been listening to their conversations about competitive step counting with interest.

(An aside: I’ve got all sorts of worries here about employers and schools owning what is essentially health data about those who work and learn there. I worry too about corporate healthism and about fitness and thinness as normative for workers. And I worry about who owns the information and controls how it’s used.)

But setting that aside, I turned on the Samsung health tracker on my phone, which also counts steps. No big surprises. 100 km bike rides are good, long plane rides are bad.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at this conference. Day 1 I made my step count. How? We’ve been walking on breaks and after meals. Last night after dinner we walked to a nearby castle and learned some Swedish history.

Thanks Sweden for better work/life balance, conferences that start at 9 and end at dinner, and include walks on the agenda.

Here’s some photos from our stroll.

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