Learning what an active break is will help you reduce the tensions you accumulate during workdays that last 8 hours a day, or even more.
On the other hand, if you are in charge of a work team, promoting wellness in the workplace through an active break is not just a matter of fashion, since taking care of the health of your employees is essential to maintain a productive environment. Think about it, if your team is happy and feels comfortable working, this will have a positive impact on the performance of the area, as they will get better results over time. In that sense, what they are and what types of active breaks you can use is really necessary, don’t you think?
To alleviate your doubts, in this article, we will explain what an active pause is, what are its benefits, what types of active pauses exist and how to do them correctly. Finally, we will give you some examples of active breaks exercises that you can apply today to improve your well-being and that of your team.
what are active breaks?
Okay, let’s solve the question of the century: what is an active break? basically, active breaks are mini-sessions of physical mobility that take place during the workday to avoid muscle tension caused by the accumulated stress of the day, thus reactivating our energy to continue working.
But what do active breaks consist of? An active break consists of taking short breaks throughout the day to perform different types of exercises for a period of approximately 5 to 10 minutes. These include cardiovascular fitness, improving flexibility and strengthening muscles.
In other words, the meaning of active pause refers to a “break” from the stress of the day to be in motion, to break with repetitive computer activities and to prevent people from having physical problems.
Likewise, active breaks seek to reduce muscle injuries and other conditions caused by sedentary lifestyles. In addition, taking healthy breaks at work promotes regular physical activity as a healthy habit, which will provide you with many long-term benefits.
However, the results of performing joint mobility exercises during active breaks will not take long to show their results over time; on the contrary, you will be able to enjoy a state of peace and tranquility after doing them.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, by incorporating an active break at work, those who are part of this “break” will see results almost immediately, even if the activity only lasts a few minutes. sounds amazing, don’t you think?
why take active breaks?
So, now that you know what an active break is, it’s time to delve into the importance of doing these activities to improve your well-being. Otherwise, throughout your days you will feel overloaded and every day will seem like a martyrdom.
The benefits of active breaks are many, for starters, they can make you feel relaxed and keep you out of some minor ailments that, over time, can become more complicated. that being said, are you ready to learn, in a timely manner, how important an active break is and why you should start taking them?
1. Avoids sedentary lifestyles and their afflictions
First of all, implementing active breaks at work is important for the prevention factor, as they are necessary to avoid problems caused by sedentary lifestyles, such as musculoskeletal disorders, posture problems and problems related to the functioning of the metabolism.
Thus, by implementing what is an active break into your daily routine, you will be able to combat these health problems and increase your energy level little by little. However, if you want to lead a healthy life in a holistic way, it is also advisable to pay attention to healthy eating.
2. Stimulates productivity
On the other hand, taking active breaks during the workday will be a great tool to boost the performance and productivity of employees. As we said before, if your workers feel encouraged, they will perform better and will be willing to perform their daily tasks without delays and with better results.
In that sense, work breaks increase self-control capacity, stimulate creativity, help memory, favor coordination, improve concentration capacity and increase resistance to body fatigue.
One of the objectives of active breaks is, precisely, to act as fuel for organizations, ensuring the health of its members.
3. Reduces stress and anxiety
In addition, among the benefits of active breaks we can find that they contribute to reduce stress, muscle tension, anxiety and aggressiveness. On the other hand, in terms of the physical aspect, they help flexibility, joint mobility, elasticity, muscle strength and posture of the spine.
So, what are active breaks for? Basically, to avoid that at the end of the working day all you can think about is lying in bed or on the furniture until the next day. Active breaks will be that dose of vitality that you need to continue the week with a better appearance and willing to do more activities.
4. Strengthens companionship
Also, active breaks in the workplace help to strengthen teamwork, especially if they are group active breaks. in this way, active breaks function as a space for casual and stress-free interaction for workers.
In this sense, an active break at work promotes social integration and the development of positive interpersonal relationships among colleagues, which will avoid the tensions and conflicts that can arise on a daily basis.
5. Improves physical condition
Finally, for people who work exclusively at the computer, active breaks reduce the repetitiveness of movements used for typing and using the mouse. In this way, the risk of diseases such as arthritis is reduced.
As you can see, the main objective of the concept of active breaks is to improve the physical condition of employees. however, active breaks at work are a simple complement, since, in the same way, it is suggested to practice physical activity regularly as part of the routine.
In addition to active breaks, which are part of the change towards a healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity helps prevent chronic diseases, pulmonary conditions, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
what are the types of active breaks?
Up to this point you already know what an active break is and its importance, but what else do you need to know to avoid stress at work and promote your well-being and that of your collaborators? If you thought about the types of active breaks that exist, you’re right!
After knowing what types of active breaks there are, you will be able to choose the one that you like the most and fits your lifestyle, as well as your busy schedule.
1. Active flexibility breaks
Active breaks to stimulate dynamic muscle flexibility include different stretches that last from 3 to 5 seconds each. These have the function of increasing the temperature and boosting the contractile capacity of our musculature.
For this type of active pause to be most effective, it must be performed using all the muscle chains. for example, if we want to stretch our back muscles, we can continue stretching our legs or neck. In this way, we will avoid muscle tension caused by being in one position all day.
2. Muscle activation breaks
The active pauses of muscular activation seek to activate the muscles quickly by means of conscious movements. The brain will regulate the action of the muscles by contracting each one of them to release tension.
Surely it has happened to you that, when sitting for a long time, your muscles contract and this generates discomfort. to alleviate this, the objective of this type of active pause is to learn to regulate the action of the muscles in a conscious way, in that way, we will be able to relax our muscles when necessary.
3. Active joint mobility breaks
what is an active pause focused on joint mobility? This type of active pause consists of movements that allow our joints to have more amplitude to move and less restrictions, they are ideal to avoid pain and tension that accumulates in the joints.
Usually, this active pause is oriented to work the neck, knees and ankles, as they are the joints that usually present more problems after sitting for a long time at the desk.
To extend their benefits, you can combine them with flexibility exercises.
4. Playful active breaks
want to make the active break fun? excellent! This type of active break aims to release fatigue and stress from work in a more dynamic way.
So what is a playful active break? This consists of different activities and games that require eye and hand coordination, as well as board games and games of agility and dexterity. Therefore, if you are looking to develop a connection between mind and body, as well as bonding among your collaborators, this is the ideal type of active break for you.
5. Rhythmic active breaks
what is a rhythmic active break? It is a set of activities, games and exercises that are accompanied by lively music. The objective of this type of active break is to combine physical activity and fun to encourage interpersonal interaction among employees. these activities can range from stretching to dancing!
Usually, rhythmic active breaks are done collectively; that is, the work team is brought together to develop the exercise. In this way, people relax and release the accumulated tension of the day. did someone say group zumba class? we’re in!
6. Passive pauses
Om… It’s time to relax a bit and talk about passive breaks, which are a break to relax the mind and renew our energy through relaxing or therapeutic music, as well as meditation or reflection audios. Usually, the music is accompanied by breathing exercises and gentle stretching.
Passive breaks at work are the best way to enhance psychological and physical well-being, as well as the creativity and productivity of people in the company. It is also useful to improve self-control, conscious decision making and collaborative work.
7. Creative active pauses
Finally, what is a creativity-focused active break? these are freestyle! Therefore, companies should design games and activities that enhance productivity at work and can distract employees from the accumulated tensions of the day.
when should you apply these creative active breaks? Basically, when you want to break the routine, encourage integration and improve the work climate among collaborators. we are sure they will enjoy it!
For example, you can implement active breaks dedicated to sharing healthy snacks in the office, perform dynamic games such as mime, team missions, treasure hunts, among others. The options are endless! You just need to identify which activity best suits the characteristics of your team members.
how should active breaks be performed?
Now that you know the types of active breaks for work environments and to perform at home, you are surely wondering how you should do the exercises correctly. Below, we will describe the basic considerations you should keep in mind to start training your body and mind.
First of all, active breaks should include different types of activities, i.e., they should be varied between different exercises to cover different objectives. For example, it is very common to focus on joint mobility and flexibility; however, it is also important to combine it with physical activities to avoid the development of cardiovascular conditions and enhance the use of the lungs.
In this way, we reduce possible pathologies related to work stress, sedentary lifestyles and prolonged static positions. In addition, a double benefit is obtained because an additional caloric expenditure is made. In the long term, active breaks will be essential to prevent the risk of developing chronic diseases.
Although it is not necessary to invest so much time to witness the benefits of an active pause, as we mentioned before, it is advisable to take at least two active pauses lasting 10 minutes each.
Finally, when taking an active break it is important to take into account the following recommendations:
Listen carefully to the indications of the leader or instructor in charge.
Maintain an adequate, soft and slow breathing.
Take care to have a good posture.
Concentrate on the exercise.
Do the repetitions of the exercises when required.
can everyone do these kinds of active breaks?
of course you can! As you have seen throughout the article, there are several types of active pauses, among which you can find demanding options, such as rhythmic active pauses, and quiet alternatives, such as passive pauses.
However, you should be especially careful with people who have any of the following conditions, as they should refrain from making demanding active pauses:
Therefore, if you lead an active break session, before scheduling the healthy meeting, we recommend that you ask if any of the team members suffer from these conditions or any other, so you can schedule a session according to their needs.
Examples of active breaks
excellent! You’re almost an expert on active breaks, the only thing missing for you to complete your knowledge about these stress and tension breaks, are the best examples of active break exercises.
Luckily, you’ve arrived at the section of the article where you’ll discover everything you need to know to revolutionize your daily work routine. Are you ready? below, we’ll give you some examples of active break activities at work.
it’s simple! Introducing short walks of 2 to 5 minutes in our office or home as part of active breaks will be very good for blood circulation and joint mobilization, as well as activating the metabolism.
2. Knee raises and knee bends
Performing 1 minute of each of these exercises during active breaks will be very good for the mobility and strengthening of the limbs and lower joints, as well as boosting the flexibility of the legs and knees.
Place your hands behind your head.
Raise your knee as high as you can.
Continue with the other one in an intercalated way.
Place your back straight
Put your arms straight in front of you
Lower as if you were going to sit down by bending your knees.
During active breaks, it is important to perform stretches of at least two minutes. As previously mentioned, it is important to follow the chain of muscles.
Steps to perform stretching:
Very gently, tilt your neck to the side and forward.
Stretch your shoulders, arms and back forward, hold for 10 seconds.
Lengthen hands and wrists, interlace fingers, hold for 3 seconds.
Doing yoga is a great option for active breaks. According to the World Health Organization, “yoga is a valuable tool to increase physical activity and decrease non-communicable diseases”.
This is because it is a very complete activity for the body, as it relaxes us, helps us to stimulate concentration, enhance our flexibility and is excellent as a meditation exercise.
Best of all, there are many variations and levels of difficulty, so it is accessible to most people. you have to try it!
5. Mental Pauses
want to take one of the active breaks without getting up from your spot? Whether it’s because you find it a little weird to stand up and do push-ups in the middle of the office or simply because you don’t have the space to do them, here’s the solution.
To perform what is an active break without leaving your seat, you can start with the following:
Put together puzzles.
Make a pupiletras.
Form a sudoku.
Also, if you have a friend nearby, you can get together at lunchtime and challenge each other to the famous “hangman” game, jenga, or other board games.
Example of game for active pause:
Choose a letter: each of you should write the maximum number of words that begin and end with the same letter.
On one of the cell phones, set the timer to count down 30 seconds.
let the game begin!
Whoever has typed the most words wins. good luck!
6. Neck exercises
Taking active breaks is a good way to relax one of the areas that accumulates the most tension when working in the same position, especially when it comes to an office job and you are in front of a computer most of the day. In addition, neck exercises can be done in a very simple way and in a short time.
The idea is to do neck movements and stretches that allow you to relieve any kind of pain you feel in the area. This is a type of active break that can be done on an individual basis, and these are some of the things you can do to accomplish this.
Massage the neck muscles, especially, the part that connects to the upper back area. You can do this for 15 seconds and repeat as many sets as you feel necessary.
Tilt your neck sideways towards each shoulder, you can do 10 repetitions of this exercise.
Lower your head forward, trying to touch your chin to your chest. You can do 10 repetitions of this exercise.
The neck exercises that we suggest for this type of active break are ideal for relaxing during long workdays, in addition, they serve to increase blood flow in the neck and stretch all the tissues in the area.
7. Shoulder exercises
The shoulders also accumulate physical tension when we work for a long time in front of the computer. So you can take advantage of your physical break routine to include some exercises that help you release the load felt in the area.
These exercises are of great help to increase flexibility, muscle mobility and blood flow in the tissues. here are some of the routines you can incorporate into your active break:
The first thing you should do is slowly raise and lower your shoulders. To make it more effective, you can contract your shoulders for a few seconds as you raise them. You can do 10 repetitions, accompanying each repetition with deep breathing.
Make movements to rotate your shoulders back and forth in a circular motion. It is important that you do the exercise slowly and with very wide movements.
Stretch your arm to the front and slowly bring it towards your chest, you can use your other arm to push it from the elbow and make a more complete movement.
It is important that when performing these active pause exercises for the shoulders, take into account that you must have a proper position. So we recommend that you try to sit in a way that does not generate more stress to your body and that you can do the exercises comfortably.
8. Exercises for the hands and elbows
People who work with graphic design, writing and other tasks that involve the use of a keyboard and a mouse, can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, therefore, it is necessary to do some preventive exercises within your active break routine.
In this section we will discuss some exercises that are ideal for your hands and elbows:
Bring the palm of your hands together in front of your chest, and lower them in that position until you start to feel some tension in your forearm muscles.
Stretch your arm and place the palm of your hand in a vertical position in front of your face, with the other hand, hold your fingers and slowly push them back.
Interlock the fingers of your hands and begin to make movements rotating the wrist from side to side. This will help you develop flexibility and your ability to move your joints.
In all these exercises, you should do the movements slowly and progressively. It is important that you also accompany all your exercises with slow breathing, so that you can oxygenate your muscles. By incorporating them into your active pause routine, you can protect yourself and prevent any problems with the joints and nerves in your hand.
9. Exercises to relieve low back pain
Lower back problems are very common in all types of jobs, especially when people sit for long periods of time. Fortunately, there are some exercises you can include in your active-break routine to relieve any pain in the area.
The first exercise you should do is the rotator cuff stretch, which will help you give movement to the muscles in the lumbar area. Sitting in a comfortable chair, you should raise the ankle of one of your legs over the knee of the other, after that, little by little, you should push the knee of the leg you raised towards the floor.
The next exercise starts from the same position, but instead of pushing your knee towards the floor, you should bring it towards your chest with your hands.
Sitting on a chair, you should slowly bend down until you touch your feet or the floor. This will help you stretch all the muscles in your back.
It is recommended that you do all the exercises in your active break slowly, as this will help protect your muscles from injury. As one of the most vulnerable areas, you can also research and incorporate a more extensive list of exercises.
10. Exercises to relax the eyes
Office work also has an impact on our vision, leading to eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. In fact, doctors know this type of problem as computer vision syndrome. That’s why it’s important that your active breaks at work include some exercises to rest your eyes and protect your vision.
Here are some exercises to relax your eyes that you can do during your active break:
Close your eyes and make up-and-down, side-to-side, and circular movements with them. You should do these movements slowly, because an exaggerated movement could generate more tension.
Rub your hands to warm them up a little and cover your eyes with the palm of your hand.
It is also advisable to do exercises to focus and defocus your eyes by looking at an object. The best way to do this is to take the object of your choice and move it closer and farther away from your eyes. You should choose something small and fix your eyes on a specific point.
Doing these exercises from time to time can help you prevent the fatigue that comes from being exposed to the lights of a screen. We recommend that you include them in your active breaks at work so that you can have greater benefits. It is also a good idea to find out how to lower the brightness of your PC to reduce exposure to lights.
Now that you know what an active break is and why they’re important, we hope you’ll be encouraged to implement them in your work team or in your own home office. Propose it in the office and you’ ll see how it makes a difference in productivity. everyone will feel more rested and less stressed!