Movement
Centr Team

Yes, you need a break. Here’s how to do it right

Centr Team

We’ve got bad news – are you sitting down?

Did you know that if you have a desk job, roughly 66 percent of your waking hours are spent on your behind?

The average time spent sitting each day in America is 7.7 hours. And sitting time is responsible for 433,000 deaths per year – that’s because because physical inactivity is a big contributor to conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.

You probably already know you need to move more, but why exactly is the sedentary lifestyle bad for you? And how do you squeeze more movement in?

There has to be more to it than standing desks…

Cemtr trainer Mari-Cris Lapaix uses a foam roller to stretch out her spine.
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A desk worker’s best friend is the Centr Recovery Kit – with everything you need to relieve tension and target pain points during a break.

Why you need to take a break right now

For your body: Sitting down for 8-plus hours a day is not what your body has evolved to do. If you don’t address it, you will pay for it with aches and pains. Regular breaks mean less pain and stiffness.

For your work: Breaks make you more productive. There are inboxes overflowing with evidence to suggest that regular breaks help to keep workers engaged and make work more enjoyable. Even a tiny 2-minute chat to a colleague in the kitchen or quick 5-minute walk outside can reboot your focus and engagement.

For your mind: Not happy in your job? You’re not alone. Half of American employees say they feel stressed at work every day. By using your break wisely (we’ll help you out with this below), you can calm your nervous system, reduce stress levels and feel better.

For your long-term health: Too much sitting doesn’t just cause tight glutes or a sore neck. It can raise the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, and increase the chance of developing health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels. The less you sit, and the more you get up and move, the better.

A man and a woman, both in gym wear with their backs to the camera, and have both hands placed on their lumbar back.
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Back pain bringing you down? Use these 7 essential exercises for desk workers to support a strong back and core.

How to take a break that gives you a boost

Snapping yourself out of that ‘I’ll just get back to one more email’ routine to step away from your desk can be tough. Here’s how to shift your mindset – so your body follows.

1. Schedule a a one-on-one with yourself

Your calendar is full of team meetings, company meetings, one on ones… All it’s missing is a little you time.

Schedule a break in your work calendar or set an alarm – add a note about what you plan to do during your break (we’ll help you out with ideas below).

Anything is better than nothing. One study of surgeons found that even breaks of just 20 seconds led to more accurate surgery results. If your work is feeling more like an endurance challenge, an analysis of studies found that breaks of 10 minutes or longer are ideal for maintaining performance on draining work days.

How long you need to take depends on how you want to use your break, but 5 minutes is a nice sweet spot for most people.

2. Take a breather to beat email apnea

A little time focusing on your breathing can be a big stress buster.

Many of us are unintentionally holding our breath when we’re reading emails or sending text messages. This is known as email apnea, and it triggers your body’s “fight or flight” response, which as well as rocketing stress levels, can lead to physical pain like stiffness and headaches.

By taking deep breathing breaks, you will train your body to breathe better and become more aware of your breath.

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Try this guided box breathing technique at your desk.

3. Move your body to clear your head

Roll that chair back and throw off those aches and pains.

When you move, your heart rate increases, which pumps more blood (and therefore oxygen and nutrients) to your brain. This blood flow is like a mineral bath for your brain. By increasing levels of mood-boosting chemicals like dopamine, it can improve memory and focus for up to 3 hours.

Luke Zocchi stretches to the right, holding a strap overhead.
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Hit play on this upper-body release session – Luke Zocchi has packed it with moves to counteract desk worker woes.

4. Get outside your office

Give your mind and body a change of scenery.

Time in nature is proven to lower stress, increase energy and improve your mood. All of the break activities we’ve mentioned so far – from stretching to breathing exercises – can be done outdoors. So get outside for your break, if you can.

More tips to improve your work days (and beyond)

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