Give yourself a break with these 5-minute movement ideas

We’ve all experienced it. One minute you’re on a roll, replying to emails and marking tasks off your to-do list. And the next you’re scrolling through Instagram on your phone after checking the weather for the hundredth time. That’s your brain telling you it’s time for a break.

Research shows that taking breaks is essential to your physical and emotional health, and breaks can even boost productivity and creativity and improve learning. If you’ve recently found yourself working at home, taking breaks can help support your mental health while you’re adapting to your new environment. But it’s not just about taking a moment away from your desk to refocus on the task at hand. During times of high stress, self-care is of the utmost importance.

You might be thinking you don’t have time for a break, and is it really that important? The short answer is yes, and it might even save you time in the long run by helping you refocus and recharge to complete the task at hand. “Think of your attention span as a limited resource like a cell phone battery,” explains Jair Lee, a performance specialist at EXOS. “The more applications you run on your phone, the faster you deplete the battery. Eventually you have to recharge it.”

So how can you fit it all in? If you’re crunched for time and space, Lee recommends taking mini movement breaks of about five to 10 minutes throughout the day, something he calls a movement snack. “I divide my day into working blocks of 60 to 90 minutes,” he says. “After each block, I take a walk, step outside, or find a creative way to move a little.”

Get started with one of these five equipment-free movement sequences.

1. 10-to-1 countdown

This circuit-like workout consists of two simple exercises: squats and pushups. Complete 10 squats and 10 pushups, then nine of each, then eight of each, and so on, until you get to one squat and one pushup. To make it more challenging, time yourself and try to beat your time each time you choose this workout.

2. Lunge matrix

Put your legs to the test with five minutes of various lunges completed at a comfortable pace. Complete a forward lunge, backward lunge, and lateral lunge on the right side, then switch sides and complete again on your left side. Repeat the sequence until time is up. Be sure to focus on proper technique by completing this workout in front of a mirror.

3. Mobility sequence

Increase your mobility with a combination of the world’s greatest stretch and downward facing dog. Alternate one world’s greatest stretch with a downward facing dog for five minutes, holding each position for one deep breath. Be sure to switch sides on each world’s greatest stretch. With each position change, focus on maintaining clean lines.

4. Core sequence

Strengthen your core with this planks or pillar bridge circuit. Alternate a plank with 10 shoulder taps with a side plank iso-hold for 10 seconds. Complete four to eight rounds. To progress over time, increase the number of rounds you complete as you gain strength.

5. Power circuit

Fit in a burst of cardio and power with a short circuit of high knees, pushups, and squat jumps. Complete 20 seconds of high knees, 20 seconds of pushups, and 20 seconds of squat jumps. Take a 20-second rest. Repeat two to three times. To maximize the impact of this workout, focus on quality of movement over quantity.

Looking for more ideas on how to stay active at home? Check out our guide to building a home gym in any size space.

About the Author

Kara Hawking

Kara Hawking is a Phoenix-based freelance writer.

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