Last week, we learned about the strategy of fitness breaks — not a taking a break from fitness, but doing active mini-workouts during various breaks throughout your day to total about one hour of activity. This week, we’re still talking about fitness breaks, but we’ll look at them a little differently.
How often do you snack, refill your coffee or tea cup, and take breaks from work? When I worked 9am to 5pm, I snacked three or four times a day, had tea or coffee two or three times a day and very rarely took breaks (usually eating lunch at my desk, too). Most of my coworkers did the same. The only ones who rarely miss a break are the smokers; too bad they’re not really getting fresh air.
Think of fitness breaks as little wellness snacks for your body and mind. If smokers can find the time to take a break no matter how cold or wet it is outside, no matter how busy they are, then you can, too — minus the cigarette, of course. And while you’re taking a break, make it a fitness break! In a typical work day, you are usually entitled to two 15-minute breaks and lunch. Well, in 15 minutes you can go for a walk, get some fresh air, clear your mind and have a snack. If you are pressed for time, you can still take five minutes to stretch at your desk, in the lobby, in your kitchen — anywhere, really.
To make it happen, start by scheduling your fitness breaks, or even plain breaks, in your calendar. Block time off for 10 to 15 minutes, to move your body. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do rigorous activity. When the time comes to break, try some of these fitness ideas to get you going:
- Team up with co-workers for a daily 11am stretch break, a 12:30pm walking lunch or a 3:30pm ping pong or foosball match (or interactive console game if your workplace has any active video games on site). Note: You may be able to get support from your HR department to help set up activities and provide any accessories or equipment.
- Start a daily challenge with friends, neighbours, family or coworkers. Agree on a time to take a fitness break as a group or individually, and then log your events, to share them with the group as well as track progress and winners. Your breaks can involve steps challenges, push-up or plank competitions, jump rope or Double Dutch tourneys or even hula-hoop showdowns. Use your imagination — well, your active imagination!
- Challenge yourself to perform a physical activity for each snack and/or coffee you consume. For example, after your first morning coffee, do three sun salutations — or climb a flight of stairs while you wait for it to brew.
- Turn your fitness breaks into office games. You can have one consistent theme, or change the theme daily. Every time someone swears (oops!) they do five push-ups, or every time someone leaves their computer unlocked they do 10 crunches. How about five squats for each minute someone is late to a meeting? The possibilities are endless. The bonus here is it may deter people from keeping or developing bad office habits. It’s clearly a win-win situation!
With very little effort and some commitment, fitness breaks can easily be introduced to any day and lifestyle. They are quick and fun and benefit everyone involved. Go ahead and take lots of fitness breaks, every single day. Treat yourself — and get healthier at the same time!
Katya Mohsen is a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience in fitness and sports training. Catch her practical fitness advice Thursdays on Slice.ca.