IMEX America fosters healthy minds, bodies and spirits

Self-care is any activity done deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s often one we tend to overlook. Meeting planners know this all too well. Packed schedules, demanding deadlines, long hours and frequent travel often take precedence over—and a toll on—health and well-being, and burnout is common.

That’s why self-care is so important. It is the key to preventing health issues and managing stress, as it can improve our moods, and reduce anxiety and depression. It’s not a selfish act: It’s a self-love act that enables us to see beyond our own experience, to be in the present and to care for others—and it spills over into our communities and the world.

But it’s not always easy to take time for self-care. We have to actively choose to make the time for it—to plan for it. There are myriad opportunities to incorporate self-care into our lives, if we know where to find them. IMEX America 2019 is one such place. IMEX Group has been incorporating wellness programs into its shows for the last five years, and with the increasing emphasis on wellness in the industry, the focus will only grow over time.

“I believe that well-being is enormously important to the meetings industry,” says Dale Hudson, knowledge and events director for IMEX Group. “Having held other meeting industry roles over the past 30 years, I know how incredibly stressful a planner’s life can be. I’ve thought that if IMEX can help just a little in getting the message out on how important it is to manage stress, this would be a good thing for our industry.”

Take Time Out for No. 1

IMEX helps its attendees to recharge through several programs and initiatives designed for relaxation, rest and rejuvenation. In the first few years, IMEX America incorporated a meditation area, which evolved into the Be Well Lounge, run by IMEX Group health-and-wellness consultant Lee Papa. Inspired by Mindful Makeovers, Papa’s rejuvenation program, Be Well Lounge, gives IMEX attendees the chance to meditate, receive mindfulness training, get a massage or simply pause for a few moments of relaxation. The Be Well Lounge will be offered all four days this year.

“Initially, it was almost something [people] did not want to be seen going to,”Hudson says. “However, as times have changed, people do not seem to worry about using these types of facilities. Now, people come back each year, saying how visiting the Be Well Lounge has had an impact on their lives—long-term, with many practicing meditation year-round and using it in stressful situations.”
This year, IMEX America will launch Laughter Yoga, a program by Sarah Routman, IMEX’s presenter from Laugh for the Health of It.

Fall into Puppy Love

One of the more popular wellness programs at IMEX America comes in the form of puppies. It’s well-documented that petting animals relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts mood, facilitates relaxation and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

With that in mind, IMEX and its partner, MPI, have been offering puppy-cuddling breaks since 2016 for IMEX America attendees who feel overwhelmed by the sensory overload of back-to-back appointments and education sessions while navigating the floor and the crowd. The puppy breaks have become a welcome respite from the noise and activity. They’re also a good way to socialize the puppies while they acclimate to busy, noisy environments in a safe and welcoming place.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Of course, a healthy mind works best with a healthy body, and IMEX America offers several options for fitness. A favorite among IMEX attendees is IMEXrun, “an energetic start to a day where participants can run, jog or walk down the iconic Las Vegas Strip,” according to Hudson. The 5K run will begin at dawn on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The event is open to all IMEX America participants who want to add fitness to their IMEX wellness experience.

Event attendees are often surprised at how many steps they put in during a day at an event the size of IMEX America. To help keep attendees moving, last year IMEX launched Caesars Forum Walking Challenge by Heka Health, in which participants compete for prizes for meeting daily step goals.

More than 400 people participated in the challenge last year, adding up to more than 5.7 million total steps over a three-day period. Steps are tracked through a downloadable app and presented on a leaderboard at the challenge booth. IMEX Group encourages attendees to step up to the challenge again this year.