CALS Community of Wellness tip: Break up your work day with exercise snacks

Earlier this year, preliminary results from a study out of Columbia University Medical Center suggested that five minutes of walking every 30 minutes during long periods of time spent sitting can have a positive effect on health. These “exercise snacks” improved blood pressure, led to decreases in fatigue and improved positive mood.

What are some ways to get your “exercise snacks” in during a work day?

  • Set up multiple, reoccurring timers on your phone, or keep a timer (think egg timer) at your desk that you can easily reset to help you mark the time.
  • Create a list of activities that last about 5 minutes in length and require movement.  Hang or post that list where you can easily see or access it.
    • Examples could be: Walking up the stairs x many times, or making a loop up one stairwell, and down another in your workplace. Do a lap or two around the block or your office. If you’re at your home office, go throw the ball with the dog in the back yard, or take a 5-minute walk on treadmill or outside. Do you have vacuuming or housework that needs to be done? Do a room or two at a time.
  • Try pairing another habit or daily task with your exercise snack. So perhaps you check the mail at 2pm every day. Combine that with a few more minutes of walking to make it count as a five-minute break.
  • Instead of eating and sitting at your desk for lunch, get up and go somewhere to eat lunch. Take the long way there.

For those who routinely work on campus, there are various relaxing spots to visit. See here for a compilation of places on campus to check out. In particular, the D.C. Smith Greenhouse Conservatory on the corner of Linden and Babcock, is a balmy place to stop in on a cold, wintry afternoon. The Botany Greenhouse is another.  If addition, there are all sorts of spaces in and around campus that are open to visit and maybe take a breather. Here is a list compiled by the ASM Equity and Inclusion Committee that could be suitable for meditation, prayer or mental health breaks.

More information on the study mentioned above, headed by Keith Diaz, associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia, can be found here. National Public Radio published a 6-part series called, “Body Electric” where they featured this study and did an interview with Dr. Diaz.

Taiya Bach, MPH, RDN is teaching faculty with the Department of Nutritional Sciences and a member of the CALS Community of Wellness.