Recess is a hot topic among our elected officials. Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell recently vetoed a bill that would have mandated daily physical activity for kids in Virginia schools. Meanwhile, the state of Colorado passed a bill that requires 30 minutes of activity a day for each child.
While our representatives debate the merits of recess in school, adults are increasingly becoming sold on the idea in the workplace. More companies are beginning to enforce mandatory playtime during the work day.
“A couple of 10-minute recess breaks a day and a standing desk can have huge health benefits,” says Allison Kleinfelter, a health and nutrition consultant working with Hershey Company in Pennsylvania to help build physical activity into the work day. “Employees typically won’t take it upon themselves to take an activity break. But if the organization sets that time aside for activity, employees love it. And there’s plenty of evidence that shows those breaks increase productivity.”
Keen Footwear has caught the recess bug, implementing 15-minute activity breaks into its work day, and creating a “recess center” with Frisbees, yoga mats, and bikes.
“We’ve created an open door policy where we encourage everyone to get outside for a 15-minute break,” says Kate Lee, Keen’s director of human resources. The company helped install adult-friendly tire swings in downtown Minneapolis, and it has even started a nationwide campaign to get other companies involved.
Adult recess is a key component to the new National Physical Activity Plan, a movement to fight obesity led by a variety of health organizations including the Center for Disease Control and American Heart Association. Currently, 75 percent of Americans don’t meet the plan’s goal of 150 minutes of activity each week.
“We’ve engineered exercise out of our lives, particularly in the work place,” says Kleinfelter, who also serves as a consultant for the National Physical Activity Plan. “Instead of seeing exercise as something separate that you have to change your clothes for and drive to a different location to participate in, we’re trying to make it part of the work day.”
The 10-Minute Recess
Activity Calories Burned
Get Up, Stand Up
How much of an impact can just standing at your desk make on your overall health? A 150-pound person burns 54 more calories per hour standing at a desk instead of sitting, which adds up to 400 calories burned each day.
Yoga has become the go-to cross training activity for many mountain athletes, but standup paddling (SUP) is quickly catching on as a low impact workout. What happens when you combine the two? You get an innovative workout in a beautiful setting.