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Healthy Computing: Integration Breaks

“I have more energy” and “I feel a little less tired by the end of the day” are common comments reported when people begin to integrate micro- and larger breaks during their computer work. Yes, even with the best intentions we may forget to take micro-breaks or large movement breaks.

Micro-breaks are 1 to 2-second moments of muscle relaxation to interrupt the low level static tension while larger breaks include standing up and movement. This allows the blood to flow in and out, bringing oxygen and nourishment to the tissue and removing waste products. Prevent discomfort and increase your energy when you take “integrate breaks”.

How to Take Integrate Breaks

Take Many Micro-Breaks. Every 30 to 60 seconds drop your hands to your lap and let your arms, shoulders and hands go limp. At the same time wiggle your shoulders. Use every opportunity such as:

  • Dropping your hands to your lap with a plop when reading an email
    instead of continuing squeezing the mouse
  • Dropping your hand to the side of your body after finishing a web-based
    data form

Take Frequent Larger Movement Breaks. Every 30 to 60 minutes change positions, alternate tasks, or perform movements for about 1 to 5 minutes. These large movements assist lymph return, improve blood flow and redistribute physical strains and pressures, such as disc compression from sitting. Use every opportunity to change your position such as:

  • Standing up to answer the telephone
  • Walking over to the next desk instead of sending an email
  • Alternating work tasks (e.g., data entry then, filing then, data entry)
  • Standing up and actively performing stretch and strength exercises

Install a Computer Interrupt Program. These are programs that remind you to take breaks. The following programs can be downloaded from the web for a free test ride.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney

Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders.

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