October 15, 2021
Active Breaks: Importance and how to actually do them
The measures taken in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic made many people turn their homes into their workplaces and experience the methodology of teleworking. This, which is a new way of working for many, requires, among other things, a series of habits that improve productivity and help improve the quality of life. In short, we must promote safety and health at work.
For those who don’t have experience in the home office, it is important to recommend a work routine with active breaks. It would help if you avoided discomfort or pain caused by incorrect work postures by using ergonomic furniture not suitable for long working hours lack of physical activity, among others.
What are active breaks?
Active breaks are temporary breaks within the working day executed through physical and mental exercises to recover energy. This series of activities reduce work fatigue so that the body is not affected over time, running the risk of suffering a possible work-related illness or an occupational accident.
The main objective of active breaks is to promote work health and safety, and consist of a short routine of basic and functional joint mobility, stretching, strengthening and relaxation exercises during short breaks in the workday. They last between 5 and 15 minutes and allow you to regain energy and improve performance at work through different techniques that help reduce work fatigue, postural discomfort and prevent stress.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends visual, and muscle breaks as a method of rest. Many organizations have implemented preventive medicine programs for their employees as a way to guarantee work health and safety, known as active breaks, active work breaks, or work gymnastics.
These programs indicate joint mobility exercises, muscle stretching and muscle strength exercises, which promote changes in position and reduce muscle ailments caused by repetitive movements during the work routine. This type of physical activity acts in a preventive and therapeutic way, does not cause physical wear and tear, is short and is carried out in workplaces.
These activities aim to activate respiration, blood circulation, and body energy to prevent psychophysical alterations caused by physical and mental fatigue and enhance brain function, increasing work performance.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, each week, adults need at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity for substantial health benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines say adults also need moderate-intensity or higher muscle-strengthening activity, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
It is essential to mention that physical education and health professionals should design active work breaks or gymnastics programs because they work with people’s bodies, and any inappropriate movement can affect their health.
Here you can check out some tips for different active breaks
Why are active breaks necessary?
Physical activity is a fundamental pillar in promoting work health and safety the health and well-being of people since it has a significant impact on the prevention of diseases and improves cardiovascular, metabolic, cognitive and emotional health.
“Active breaks are important because, in the work environment, the vast majority of workers spend at least eight hours a day, and depending on the job, they are often seated, with a minimum level of physical activity. This favors that people do not have an optimal physical condition, promoting a sedentary attitude directly related to metabolic and structural changes in the human body. The work environment represents an ideal scenario for the promotion of physical activity and healthy habits.”Lina Vieda, Cafeto Occupational Health and Safety Specialist.
Challenges of active breaks at work
Getting physical activity in one’s daily routine can be a challenge in busy workplaces across the world. Common barriers are lack of self-confidence or skill, cost, fear of injury, deadlines, and other time constraints.
Further complicating matters is that many occupations or jobs are sedentary in nature. Data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that Americans spend approximately 7.7 hours per day (55% of their monitored waking time) being sedentary. Sedentary behavior increases the risk of death from all causes.
So how can you make sure you do your active breaks at work?
There can be many ways, but specifically, at Cafeto, we have developed the ‘Discover your Health Keeper’ campaign that also can help you not fail when trying to take your daily active breaks at work.
But what is it, a Health Keeper?
It is that person, pet, plant, or whatever that helps you maintain your mental sanity and physical health. Think who the hero that accompanies you every day is? Who or what enables you to get out of your position? To take a break, relax, de-stress, exercise, or simply give yourself a little respite from the toils of life.
The answer to that question will be your health keeper!
If your health keeper is someone close to you, you can talk to them to help you keep these active breaks at specific times of your day. If your health keeper is a plant or pet, set times each day when you spend 10-15 minutes caring for them.
What do the Health Keepers do?
- Invites you to a coffee at the end of the workday.
- Is attentive to your diet.
- Invites you to play soccer, tennis, go to the gym, even if you have refused before.
- Sometimes he forces you to accompany him/her on errands to get you out of your house.
- Calls you at least once a day, checking that you are okay.
- If the Health Keeper is a plant or pet, its very existence forces you to stop from your workplace and dedicate a few minutes a day to make it feel good and healthy.
We hope these tips can help you actually do your active breaks and be a healthier and happier person!
Discover your Health Keeper!
You can also, check our page where you can check all the cool activities and programs we have for our CafetoMakers!