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Office Work Breaks for a Healthy Mind and Body

Spending a large amount of time in front of a computer, whether it be for data entry, html coding, or as you chat live to your clients overseas – you need to take breaks! You’d be surprised at the amount of people who agree this is a great idea, yet continue to sit there staring at their computer screen. And please don’t be one of those people who brings their lunch to work (nothing wrong with that!) but then sits in their workseat the whole lunch break to eat it. How is that healthy (and not only annoying when you discover crumbs in the keyboard later)?

Get up and move away! Get some blood flow happening through your lower back and limbs. If you are physically challenged and use a wheelchair, please still move away from that computer screen. 

I take stretch breaks and jump around like a bunny rabbit that’s had too much caffeine during my short breaks. At first I did receive the occasional odd look, but now everyone seems to have accepted the behaviour. And I’ve noticed that some are timing their own break sessions by me (althought I must admit they do tend to partake in their break in a somewhat more dignified manner).

Your ‘break’ may still be work-related – simply moving onto another part of your job, leaving keyboard entry for a few minutes (or more) to perhaps photocopy something, file, make that phone call that needs to be made, find that particular topic you’re researching in a manual, or simply tidy up your desk or workspace. Remember, housekeeping is another very important aspect to maintaining a safe work environment.

Or, you may simply have a break – go out and take a deep breath of fresh air or maybe chat with another worker and have a good laugh. The purpose of the break is to not only give your body some ‘time-out’, but also your mind. A healthy mind supports a healthy body. A healthy body and mind supports a healthy work attitude. A healthy work attitude means better production, less down-time, and less work related accidents.

During your break you may even benefit from a drink and something to nibble on. I keep a bottle of water at the end of my work station and a bottle of muesli slices, which I snack on during the day. I don’t seem to suffer from fatigue or tension in my back or shoulders – or bottom (and I believe that not only the stretch breaks, good nourishment and correct setup in my seat are responsible, but also the cushion I have on my workseat – and I’ll tell you about that in a future article).

Now, I’m not suggesting you rush out every five minutes and have a cup of coffee and a cookie… when would we ever get any work done?

Check your own relevant state or territory for details of the recommended break times, but in our office I incorporate a conscious, mandatory break in my own schedule every hour. The truth is I ‘break’ much more often than that as I carry out other work related activities, be it filing, taking a phone call, jotting something on our whiteboard or helping a colleague.

Do a little research on stretching exercises that you might benefit from that will help to alleviate any tension in muscles or tendons that your job may be causing, and incorporate them in your daily work schedule.

Remember to break up activities – not only will your body benefit, you’ll feel rejuvenated and able to concentrate on each aspect of your job, helping you to keep safety a primary focus.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (2)

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  1. Andrea says:

    Great article and moreover more recent research seems to ondicate that it may make a real difference whether you are an active office employees who stands up regulalry to walk around, takes stairs etc. or whether to keep still on your desk for the whole day.

    Think about it from the perspective of your metabolism. If you would sit the whole day on your chair without any real movement your circulation will slow down, which will also influence the blood and as such substrate supply to your brain. The impact of a slowed circulation is a reduced metabolic rate and as such reduced energy needs. Whereas regular standing up and walking around can actually increase your metabolism somewhat, increase/improve your circulation and therefore not only help with weight maintenance but also with concentration.

    As for liquid intake which is just as important as activity during a long office day try to download water aid onto your screen it will prompt regulalry to have a glass of water and should encourage you to achieve balance hydration levels and might make your stand up more often as well.

  2. Absolutely, I do architectural detailing for hours at a time on a workstation, and I know it’s vital to get up and about as often as possible.

    It seems there’s a big movement these days towards designing healthy offices that encourage physical activity. Our company creates boutique office stairs, among other things, and it seems a lot of our recent projects are based around feature stairs that encourage workers to get up, climb some stairs, and go visit another part of the building!

    Makes sense to me! Unfortunately the stairs in office are pretty ugly and don’t really lead anywhere 😉

    There’s an article about designing for healthy spaces here

    http://www.arden.net.au/resources/Articles/King-George-Central-Development-Heralds-a-New-Era-in–Health.aspx

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