Sitting still and working diligently at your computer all day may sound productive, but it may be doing more harm than good. There are actually benefits of taking more breaks throughout your workday. While you’re taking a break, try various exercises to stay alert while working. As weird as it may sound, all that sitting and staring at a screen is exhausting.
The Dangers of Sitting too Much
If exercising during a break sounds like too much work, consider the dangers of sitting too much. Studies have shown that sitting without physical breaks can cause the following problems:
- Cardiovascular issues
- High cholesterol
- Higher risk for degenerative mental issues, such as dementia
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Physical pain, especially in your back and legs
Of course, these are all in addition to having trouble staying alert and focused while you’re working. Even just exercising a few minutes in your chair during quick breaks helps immensely.
1. Office Push-Ups
No, you won’t have to get on the floor to stay alert while working with this exercise. Instead of a traditional push-up, you’ll do an office-style push-up. You can use either a sturdy wall or your desk.
For a wall, stand two to three steps back and place your hands at shoulder-height on the wall, then do push-ups. For a desk, get into a normal push-up position, except use the top edge of your desk to push up and down from versus the floor. Both options are highly effective and easier than regular push-ups. Try to do twenty repetitions.
2. Pulse Your Arms
Finding yourself unable to pay attention? Stand up, put your arms at your sides, and then quickly pulse your arms straight back. Return them to your sides between pulses. Do this for twenty to thirty seconds to stretch your arms and get more blood flowing.
3. Stand on Your Toes
It really doesn’t get any easier than this one. Simply stand by your desk or chair and raise yourself up on your toes. You can use your desk or chair for balance if you need to. Slowly raise yourself up and then back down for ten to twenty repetitions.
4. Chair Twist
You don’t even have to take a break to do a chair twist. In fact, it’s a great way to stay alert while working in between emails or while you’re waiting for a document to open. Sit up straight near the edge of your chair. Then, twist your upper body as far to the left as possible. Do this slowly to avoid hurting your back. Hold for five to ten seconds and then repeat on the right side.
5. Walk with Water
While a little caffeine can be good, water is much better for you. In fact, water is even more effective because it keeps you hydrated. As you dehydrate, you’re less able to focus and stay alert. If you’re working from home or have an office, stand up during every break and walk around for at least five minutes (even if you’re just pacing back and forth). Drink water throughout the break period.
If possible, take a longer break, especially if you’re starting to lose focus after lunch. Go for a ten-minute walk and take a water bottle with you. Walk outside, up/down stairs, or anywhere else you can take a quick walk.
A quick set of squats is a great way to stay alert while working. You can opt for a traditional squat, but make sure to keep your knees in line with your feet as you go down. You can also try wall squats where you lean your back against the wall and lower yourself into a floating sitting position. Another option is to use your desk or chair. With your arms behind you, hold on to your desk or chair and lower yourself into a squat.
7. Office Yoga
Yoga is well-known for helping improve your health. It’s also a great way to stay alert while working. You don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel. Instead, try office yoga poses. Yoga Journal offers multiple routines depending on your available space and whether you want to sit or stand.
8. Neck and Shoulder Rolls
A stiff neck is never fun. Try neck rolls to release tension and improve focus. Start by closing your eyes to take a break from your screen. Then slowly roll your head in a circle for ten seconds. Repeat in the other direction.
For your shoulders, lift them up and roll them backward until they fall back into place. Do this three to five times. Repeat the process, but this time roll them forward.
While you can stay active even when you’re not taking a break with an under-the-desk fitness trainer, you can also ride an imaginary bike during a break. You may need to slide your chair out from under your desk if you don’t have space.
Raise your legs until they’re level with your seat and keep your knees bent. Pretend to ride a bike, keeping your feet off the floor. Do this for thirty seconds and repeat several times.
Remember, the next time you’re struggling to stay alert, try a little exercise and see just how much easier it is to stay focused.