Exercise Breaks at Work
Republished with permission of Natural Standards Research Collaboration ©2008

Integrating physical activity into the average workday may improve the health of employees, a new study reports.

Researchers from UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, CA, explained that proactive worksite strategies that change the physical or sociocultural environment(s) to incorporate obligatory physical activity may be necessary to engage sedentary people.

This study analyzed the implementation and evaluation of an intervention, Pausa para tu Salud (Pause for Your Health), that integrated a brief period of group exercise into the workday.

The study tested the effects of integrating daily 10-minute exercise breaks during paid work time during January 2003 through January 2004. A total of 335 Mexican Ministry of Health office workers provided baseline data as a part of routine annual clinical screening examinations.

Body mass index was computed as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared. Baseline mean body mass index and waist circumferences were recorded at 27.8 kilograms per meter squared and 87.6 centimeters for women and 26.6 kilograms per meter squared and 89.7 centimeters for men. Complete data were available for 271 (80.9 percent) employees at one-year follow-up.

The study found that the body mass index decreased by 0.32 kilograms per meter squared and waist circumference by 1.6 centimeters overall. The body mass index decrease, however, was significant only for men. Multivariate analyses revealed a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure among women.

The study authors concluded that physical activity integrated into a work schedule may result in significant improvements in employee health. The authors suggested that substantive health and organizational benefits may result from integrating brief periods of physical activity into the workday if these findings are replicated in randomized controlled trials in other worksites.

Lara A, Yancey AK, Tapia-Conye R, et al. Pausa para tu Salud (Pause for Your Health): reduction of weight and waistlines by integrating exercise breaks into workplace organizational routine. Prev Chronic Dis. 2008 Jan;5(1):A12. Epub 2007 Dec 15.