For many desk-based workers, aches and pains have become a regular part of the workday.
It is no surprise that remaining in the same position for long periods of time while repeating small movements such as typing, can lead to poor circulation, muscle fatigue, tissue strain, pain, and injury.
Even with the latest ergonomic workstation, your body needs regular movement throughout the day to function well. The same goes for your brain.
The evidence of this continues to grow: exercise is the best medicine, even low-intensity activity is good for you, according to a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Walking the dog, doing the dishes, making the bed, carrying the groceries – it all counts.
Consistent movement throughout your day provides a wealth of physical and mental health benefits, many of which are particularly useful at work, including reducing stress, restoring stamina, improving focus and increasing creativity. All of which adds up to more productivity at work.
But while it’s typically easy to move around when you’re not at work, it’s a different story when you’re in the office.
The question is: how can we get regular movement bursts into our workday, where we most need them? Taking frequent breaks – and making sure they include some movement – is the best way to prevent the poor health that comes with being sedentary and still at work.
Lunchbreak and coffee breaks are a good place to start, but there’s more you can do.
Thirty seconds to five minutes, but typically somewhere in between, the microbreak, when performed consistently throughout the workday, gives your body and brain a rest from your normal routine, helping you return to what you were doing with renewed energy and focus. Add some movement into your microbreak, and you gain even more health benefits, including increased blood flow to the muscles in your body and brain, helping them perform better.
Microbreaks should happen about every 10 to 30 minutes throughout your day, depending on your workload and office environment.
Create routine. As much as possible, keeping to a regular schedule of microbreaks will help you make sure you take them. Decide what works for you during your day, set your microbreak schedule and then set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move at regular intervals.
Add movement. Adding movement into your microbreak is essential if you want to reap the physical and mental health benefits of moving more during your workday. So, take your break from work, but don’t continue sitting or standing still. Instead, integrate some movement into the break for maximum results.
Start small. You don’t have to drop to the floor and do 100 pushups during your microbreak. Starting small is a better way to embed the practice into your normal routine. Try taking a few walking laps around the office or climbing a flight of stairs to get you started. For something even easier, stand next to your desk and reach up as if you’re picking apples from an imaginary tree.
Use variety. We all get bored doing the same thing every day, and it’s true with movement too. Plus, doing a variety of movements during your microbreaks will ensure every part of your body gets exercised. Try concentrating on specific areas of the body during each microbreak.
Get inspired. If you need a little help motivating yourself to move or coming up with movement ideas, Smart Break is a great place to start. Three-minute videos provide movement inspiration twice a day, so you don’t have to think about what to do next. All you have to do is watch the screen and follow along. (Don’t worry, none of our videos ask for 100 pushups!) Our cloud-based software helps create a sustainable microbreak movement habit that you can do without a moment’s preparation.
Be social. Smart Break makes it easy for teams to move at the same time, removing some of the awkwardness people can feel when moving by themselves at work. By moving together, the pressure to power on through is eliminated as everyone is taking a break. Purposeful microbreaks that allow employees to take care of their health as a group also build team cohesiveness, helping them develop relationships that go beyond their work connection. Plus, it’s fun, and we all need more of that at work!
It’s easy to take care of your health at work with regular microbreaks throughout your day. Add some movement to your microbreaks and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.