Using Your Breaks to Move Better

I’m always looking for opportunities to improve my movement and working environment, however small.

At the moment, I’m trying to add in more working positions apart from sitting to my day, but that project is going to take some time. In the meantime I’m finding plenty of little tweaks to my routine that can help with my goals of getting stronger and more flexible.

We all know it’s good to take very regular breaks if you’re a computer worker, 10 minutes out of each hour to stretch your legs and get away from the screen, and I try to do that – I move around and go and make a brew.

But since I’ve been focusing more on my health, I’ve been utilising these 10 minute breaks to do a little bit more…

1. The stairs

I’ve always just walked up and down the stairs without much thought, not really that fast, unless I’m in a hurry, but now I make a point of doing a bit more on the way up, mixing it up a bit, two stairs at a time, or running up as fast as I can.

In our house we have a family bathroom on the first floor, but we also have an en-suite bathroom off the attic bedroom (which is where my desk currently lives!). So if I’m working downstairs and need to go to the loo, I’ll make a point of going up both flights of stairs as quickly as I can to the attic rather than just the one – it’s like a mini burst of HIT every time I need to pee!

If I’m working in the attic, after my ten minute break is over, I’ll do my double staircase mini HIT on the way back up.

Do be careful on stairs though, they are dangerous, hence why I only do these things going up, never coming down!

And as an aside, if I’m out I’ll always use stairs rather than lifts or escalators in any building that I can. We don’t have sky-scrapers in Sheffield so it’s only ever a few flights at most. There are very few occasions where you can justify using escalators or lifts apart from idleness!

2. Stretch while waiting for the kettle to boil

I’m working on my flexibility and so I have a lot of different stretches that I can dip into at any time. I’ve got a yoga block down in the kitchen and while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil I can do the odd calf stretch, or squat, or try to touch my toes.

3. Aeropress mini workout

I use an Aeropress to make coffee. It’s a nifty little gadget that uses air pressure to push water through your coffee and a filter – they make great coffee, quickly. I tend to use an expresso grind which actually offers quite a lot of resistance when using the Aeropress. I used to just use my forearm with all my body weight behind it to push down the plunger but now I’ve been mixing it up a bit, with my arms half or fully extended, and core muscles engaged – it actually feels like a good upper body exercise! Do make sure you have a very stable cup if you’re doing this though as you could easily end up with coffee everywhere – you’ve been warned!

4. Eye exercises

As part of my experiment into myopia I’m taking my glasses off as much as possible, so that’s really all the time except for working, reading, driving, and watching TV. And I’m also taking any opportunity I can to look into the distance and work my eye muscles as much as possible. So when I have a moment left in my 10 minutes I’ll open the attic window and look into the distance for a couple of minutes – if the weather is nice!

These little things might seem pretty daft, and I don’t do them all every break I have. Maybe they’re hardly worth doing at all but every little helps.

These are the things I’m currently doing and no doubt they’ll change as I no longer need them or find other things to add in. And they won’t be relevant or practical for a lot of people, but I’ve just laid them out here to show you the kinds of positive little practices that you can develop in those small moments you have available throughout the day.