The Importance of Taking Active Breaks at Work

July 9, 2019
Discover why you should take active breaks at work in this interesting article!

Many of us are used to sitting around at work most of the day. But no matter how comfortable we may be, our body needs movement and activity, especially if we want to enjoy good health, both physically and psychologically. This is why it’s so incredibly important to take active breaks at work.

An active break refers to short simple stretching and relaxation exercises that are carried out in the workplace. Its duration is usually about 10 minutes and it’s recommended to do them every two working hours. Its practice makes it easier for the workers to discharge accumulated stress from all their responsibilities and take some time to reactivate their bodies. Carrying out active breaks at work improves productivity and energy.

Why Should We Take Active Breaks at Work?

Here are some of the most important benefits of taking active breaks at work:

  • Improves muscle tone and posture.
  • Decreases stress and boost self-esteem.
  • Increases concentration levels.

1. Improves Muscle Tone and Posture

Spending hours sitting in the same position can end up atrophying your muscles. Remember that their purpose is to exercise, so sitting for hours is quite the opposite. On top of that, it’s hard to maintain a good position sitting on an office chair for hours and hours.

Luckily, taking active breaks at work can help alleviate these problems. For example, performing a short yoga routine or stretching will improve both your posture and the state of your muscles. Additionally, it can help relieve certain back pains.

A woman working on her computer.

2. Decreases Stress and Boosted Self-Esteem

A lack of physical exercise is directly related to anxiety and stress problems. Now, taking active breaks at work isn’t enough to replace an adequate exercise regime. However, they can surely help manage high stress due to work overload.

In addition, doing these types of exercise increase the release of endorphins in the brain, which are the neurotransmitters related to the feeling of well-being and happiness. This, in turn, can greatly boost your self-esteem because it’ll make you feel more motivated. Additionally, it’ll allow you to leave behind the monotony that results from routine work.

3. Boosts Concentration Levels

Our attention isn’t designed to stay focused on one single task for a long time. This is especially true if we’re talking about looking at a screen for hours. For this reason, active breaks are highly recommended in this type of situation, given that they encourage resting for a few minutes.

The reason why this works is that, when you get up from the chair and do a physical activity, a part of your mental energy is recharged. Thus, despite having more breaks and therefore working less time, you’ll be able to take better advantage of it. Therefore, the balance will be positive and, at the end of the day, you’ll be able to finish more tasks.

How to Take Active Breaks at Work

As you can see, active breaks allow you to make a change in your work dynamic. On top of that, they’ll also help you prevent health problems such as stress, visual fatigue, or back pain.

Here are some exercises you can do during active breaks at work.

1. Do Yoga

Although many people disagree, yoga is, in fact, a very complete exercise. It involves stretching, concentration, and breathing. This discipline plays a very important role in the fields of bodily and mental health.

Although there are many resources to practice yoga, we recommend that you start with a routine to release stress.

2. Walk

Walking is the simplest physical exercise that there is but also one of the most beneficial. If you want to make the most of your work breaks, just put some headphones on and go for a walk. That way, you’ll clear your mind, activate your muscles, and release positive substances in your body.

3. Neck and Shoulder Exercises

The neck and shoulders are areas that tend to accumulate a lot of physical and mental stress. Therefore, it’s especially important to do some exercises that focus on these body parts in order to relax them.

A woman taking active breaks at work to exercise her neck in order to release stress.

You can massage the back of your neck and the upper region with both hands for 15 seconds. Another great way to exercise it is bending your head, trying to touch your chest with your chin, and slightly bringing your chin towards the right side for 10 seconds and then doing the same with the left.

On the other hand, if you want to focus on your shoulders to avoid overloading fatigue (which can contract them), you can place your hands on them and draw large circles simultaneously, going back and forth. Another exercise you can do is raise the shoulders as if you were trying to touch your ears at the same time. Do this for five seconds and then rest.

3. Use the Stairs

Now, what happens if you simply don’t have the time to do yoga? What if you can’t leave the office to go to the park for a walk? In that case, you can go up and down the stairs.

This exercise is so simple that many of us take it for granted. No matter how simple or accessible it may be, it helps burn fat and activate your circulatory system to avoid all kinds of diseases related to it. In a short time, all your muscles will have activated, and you’ll notice how much clearer your mind is and how energetic you feel.

As you can see, taking active breaks at work is fundamental to maintain good physical and mental health. Now it’s all up to you. Which of them are you going to try?