Taking activity breaks during your day is an excellent way to keep your focus, prevent fatigue, and relieve body stiffness. The Be Well at Work Wellness Program provides several types of activity breaks to fit into your workday and to integrate into healthy meetings.
Breathing and Relaxation Breaks
Breathing or relaxation exercises can help you get rid of tension so you can focus on your work and tasks at hand. Taking just a few minutes can reward you with renewed energy and engagement throughout your day. Begin by taking take several deep breaths to help you become more present and attentive and to let go of the distracting “chatter” in your mind.
Refer to these other breathing exercises and guides to learn more:
- Abdominal Breathing Technique
This breathing technique can help create a feeling of calm composure, renewed energy, and focus. With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 3 minutes.
Instant Recess Activity Breaks
Instant Recess is a fun, low-impact activity for use as a physical activity break in the office or workspace, or at meetings and events that supports group participation with simple calisthenic movements done to music.
- Instant Recess Movement Handout
- Instant Recess YouTube page for a variety of Instant Recess 10-minute videos including hip hop, African dance, Reggae, American Indian Traditions, sports-themes and lots more. Bookmark this page, find your favorites and have fun getting active in the office!
- Berkeley's Instant Recess 5-minute video is helpful as a guided activity break to use at meetings, or to use individually in the office.
Music Selections for Instant Recess Activity Breaks
Songs that are upbeat, have a positive message, and are familiar to a lot of people. Access these songs using iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or other favorite source.
- Did I Hear You Say You Love Me: Stevie Wonder
- New Attitude: Patti LaBelle
- Wanna Be Startin’ Something: Michael Jackson
- Moves Like Jagger: Maroon 5
- Happy: Pharrell Williams
- The Way You Make Me Feel: Michael Jackson
- Say Hey (I Love You): Michael Franti
- Uptown Funk: Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
- Move Your Body - Beyonce
Research suggests prolonged sitting is wreaking havoc on our health. Excessive sitting is cited as a key risk factor in 4 of the top 7 killers: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, and is linked to obesity. After 20 minutes of sitting, our metabolism crawls to a halt resulting in lower HDL (the good cholesterol). To lower your risk, sit less, stand up more, and keep your body moving. Standing, for even short periods of time, also can increase focus, alertness and productivity.
- At least once an hour, stand up and move for 3-4 minutes. You can march in place, walk to the printer or restroom, walk down the hall and talk to a co-worker, or use a standing workstation.
- See tips for alternating between standing and sitting at your computer workstation
Stretch breaks help wake up the body and mind, increase blood circulation, reduce tension and discomfort, all while restoring energy. Remember - only do what feels comfortable and stop immediately if anything hurts.
- Healthy Meetings & Events Guide - see page 8 for simple stretches that can be done anytime, anywhere.
- Stretch and movement breaks for all body parts from Be Well at Work - Ergonomics.
- UC Smart Break - Limber Up
- Maintaining flexibility can help mitigate muscle imbalances, improve joint mobility and improve overall fitness. These flexibility exercises can easily be done anywhere you work.
Walking or Power Breaks
Adults should engage in moderate physical activity 150 minutes a week, which translates to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. These short and active workout options below can help add up to your 30 minutes per day.
- Walk with the Be Well at Work - Wellness Walking Group
- Get the recommended 10,000 steps day. Pedometers available for purchase.
- 7 minute Workout App
- Wellness Adds Up - Videos from UC Irvine provide different exercises that do not require any equipment, so you can get up, out, and do them at anytime!
- Keep moving throughout the day -- take the stairs, take a lap around your building, park farther away.
UC Smart Breaks - Cheer Up
Developed by UC Irvine, these series of videos are designed to help you reduce stress. The collection includes short breathing exercises, meditations, and "attitude elevators." Try a different video every day to find what works best for you. To learn more visit UC Smart Breaks - Cheer Up.