Active Breaks at Work: How to Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle and Improve Productivity

Currently, many of the jobs we do are considered sedentary jobs due to the low activity and physical movement they require. This lack of movement during long hours in front of the computer can cause muscle ailments, stress and mental fatigue, which in turn can reduce productivity and increase absenteeism from work. In this post, we explain what active breaks are, their importance and how they can help you avoid a sedentary lifestyle and improve productivity.

What are active breaks at work?

Active breaks are brief interruptions in work activity, designed to reduce sedentary lifestyle and improve the physical and mental health of workers. Its main objective is to combat the negative effects of sedentary work, such as fatigue, stress and muscle pain, among others.

In recent decades, active breaks have gained great relevance in the workplace. More and more companies are promoting this practice among their employees, aware of the benefits it has for their health and performance at work. Various studies have shown that active breaks reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improve cognitive ability and reduce work absenteeism.

Types of active breaks in the work day

There are different types of active breaks that can be carried out individually or in a group. However, when putting them into practice, it is important that each company and each person adapt them to their needs and possibilities, since their main objective is to promote a culture of well-being and health at work.

Among the main types of active breaks at work are:

  • Breathing exercises: consist of inhalation and exhalation techniques that help you relax and improve concentration. These are useful to reduce stress.
  • Stretching: These are gentle movements that improve muscle flexibility and reduce accumulated tension. They can be performed sitting or standing, and cover different parts of the body such as the neck, arms, back and legs.
  • Short walks: Walking for a few minutes helps clear the mind and improve blood circulation. This is a good one for workers who spend many hours sitting in front of the computer.
  • Relaxation activities: include techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation, which reduce anxiety and stress and also improve sleep quality.

Importance and benefits of active breaks

The benefits of active breaks at work are numerous. By taking regular breaks during the workday, a sedentary lifestyle is avoided and physical and mental activity is promoted, which promotes health and well-being at work.

In addition to reducing stress and fatigue, they improve blood circulation, reduce muscle pain, prevent injuries and improve concentration and motivation. Likewise, taking active breaks and being able to disconnect from work for a few minutes makes these a good strategy to promote creativity, teamwork and communication between coworkers.

How to incorporate active breaks at work?

Incorporating active breaks into the workday can be a challenge for some companies. However, there are various techniques and tips to do it effectively.

One of the most effective ways to incorporate active breaks into work is to establish a previously planned time to take them. This way, workers will know when they need to take a break and can plan their tasks accordingly. To do this, you can use tools such as calendar or mobile reminders.

Another tip is to encourage the active participation of workers in the implementation of these breaks. By asking them what type of physical or relaxation activities they prefer to do during active breaks, you involve them in the process and promote greater commitment on their part.

What is the role of companies in promoting active breaks at work?

It is clear that active breaks at work are beneficial for both the company and the workers. However, in order to take advantage of all these advantages, it is necessary for the company to encourage these types of breaks and activities among employees. So what should the organization do?

First of all, it is important that the company includes these active breaks as part of its occupational risk prevention plan. It is also necessary, in relation to this plan, to provide detailed information to workers and conduct training sessions.

To ensure that these breaks take place, the company must encourage and organize them correctly and propose a plan and schedule to workers. There are companies that offer this type of services, although organizations also have the possibility of designing their own routine. The exercises should be adapted to the different jobs, and the breaks should last around 10 or 15 minutes.

How many active breaks should be taken in an 8-hour day?

There is no single answer for how many active breaks should be taken in an 8-hour day, since it depends on several factors such as the nature of the work, the responsibilities of each worker and their workload, among others. However, it is recommended that you take at least one active break every hour of work to counteract the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle and improve productivity.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the quality of active breaks is more important than the quantity, so it is essential that companies promote a culture of rest and physical activity at work, and that employees take advantage of these breaks to Do activities that help them relax and reduce activation.

Examples and exercises of active breaks at work

Incorporating some simple exercises into our workday is ideal for those who spend many hours sitting in front of a screen, but in general they are useful for any sedentary job. Some examples of active breaks that can be taken at work are:

  • Stretches for neck, shoulders, arms and other large muscle groups.
  • Short walk.
  • Breathing exercises.
  • Disciplinary exercises such as yoga or Pilates.

Tips to implement active breaks in your day

  • Incorporating active breaks into your work routine can have a positive impact on your well-being and productivity.
  • Plan your breaks.
  • Find a suitable space.
  • Vary your exercises.
  • Maintain the appropriate duration.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Invite your colleagues.
  • Customize your routine.
  • Record your progress.
  • Be consistent.
  • Consult a health professional.

Common mistakes and how to avoid them

Although active breaks are a valuable tool for improving well-being at work, it is possible to make some mistakes when implementing them. Identifying and avoiding these mistakes will allow you to make the most of the potential of active breaks.

Not taking breaks regularly

Mistake: Forgetting or ignoring active pauses is a common mistake. If you don’t take these breaks regularly, you won’t reap their benefits.

How to avoid it: Set a regular time for your active breaks and set reminders so you don’t forget. Make it an integral part of your daily routine.

Making breaks too long

Mistake: Taking excessively long active breaks can interrupt your workflow and affect your productivity.

How to avoid it: Keep active breaks short and focused. 5 to 10 minutes are usually enough to revitalize you without interfering with your productivity.

Performing inappropriate or intense exercises

Mistake: Doing inappropriate or too intense exercises during active breaks can cause injuries.

How to avoid it: Start with gentle exercises appropriate for your fitness level. Avoid sudden movements or movements that place excessive stress on muscles and joints.

Ignore body signals

Mistake: Not paying attention to how your body feels during active breaks can lead to exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

How to avoid it: Listen to your body and adapt your active breaks according to the signals you receive. If you feel pain or discomfort, modify or change the exercise.

Do not vary the exercises

Mistake: Performing the same exercises during all active breaks can become monotonous and less effective over time.

How to avoid it: Vary your exercises to stimulate different muscle groups and keep things interesting. Include stretching, muscle activation and joint mobility in your routine.

No breaks at all

Mistake: Some people simply don’t take active breaks due to the belief that they are unnecessary.

How to avoid it: Recognize the importance of active breaks for your well-being and productivity. Start with short pauses and gradually increase their duration and frequency.

Do not involve co-workers

Mistake: Not encouraging your coworkers to join you on active breaks can lead to them being perceived as a solitary and less motivating activity.

How to avoid it: Encourage your colleagues to participate in active breaks. They can become a social and collaborative activity that promotes health in the workplace.

Not consulting a health professional if necessary

Mistake: If you have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns about exercise safety, not consulting a health professional is a mistake that can have consequences.

How to avoid it: If you have questions or concerns about the safety of active breaks, consult a physical therapist or doctor before implementing them.

Frequently asked questions

What should not be done during an active break?

During active breaks, it is important that workers do not remain in the same position in which they do their work. So, it is essential that they take advantage of these breaks to move, disconnect from their tasks and do different activities that allow them to exercise their muscles.

How to make a dynamic active pause?

A good way to take dynamic active breaks is to combine different exercises and carry out group activities, rather than individual ones, since it will be beneficial for the professional relationship between employees and for teamwork.

How long is the ideal time for an active break?

In general, active breaks at work usually last between 10 and 15 minutes.

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