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Why is it important
to take
regular breaks?
Having suitably designed
office equipment is very
important. A well thought
out working environment
will reduce the discomfort
of sitting for sustained
periods but will not elimi-
nate it. The reasons it is
important to take periodic
breaks are to :
Avoid postural fatigue
Static postures where
certain muscles are con-
tinually contracted in one
position (such
as the back muscles keep-
ing you upright whilst typ-
ing at the keyboard) can
cause muscle dysfunction
and pain. This can be
avoided by getting up and
moving around for just a
few minutes during the
course of your work.
Avoid Visual Fatigue
Eyes can begin to fatigue
if they are used in a
prolonged and sustained
manner such as looking
at a computer screen for
too long. It is important to
prevent this by changing
your visual focusregularly...
in other words focus on
anything else but the
screen for a short while.
Taking a break for a few
minutes can help improve
Try and stay well hydrated.
Return back to your work-
ing tasks with new vigour.
Improved Productivity
Taking regular breaks, for
a ‘reasonable period of
time’, can improve produc-
tivity levels.
What constitutes a
break and what is a
‘reasonable period of
Getting the balance right
isn’t easy, but remember
that a little is better than
nothing. Try and get up
and stretch muscles
before they begin to ache,
perhaps take a quick stroll
around the office when you
can. As a rule of thumb
most research shows that
taking a 2-3 minute break
every 20 minutes is best.
Of course this isn’t always
practical but at least it
gives some idea of what
we should be trying to
A break can also be a
change in posture during
the course of the working
period. Alternating be-
tween using the computer
with more manual tasks
such as filing or relaxing
back in your chair to make
a series of phone calls al-
lows your postural muscles
to take a well earned rest.
During the work period,
design in some forced
breaks such as positioning
the printer away from your
desk so that you have to
get up to retrieve your
work. Visual breaks are
easier to achieve.
Follow the rule of 20’s :
every 20 minutes, look
20 foot away for about 20
Jogging your memory
to take a break can be
helped by visual reminders
such as notes on your PC
or use a diary application
to pop up and routinely
remind you to take a quick