Get Fit at Work by Taking These Kinds of Breaks

It's de rigeur to supply employees with free snacks at many offices. Yet while we all love a pantry full of chips, drinks, and treats of varying nutritional value, we all have other snacking options available. Some of them are even good for our health.


Kinesiologists at Canada's McMaster University have just released a study on the effects of "exercise snacks" on mostly sedentary workers. Using sprint interval training as their guide, the researchers had groups of employees vigorously climb three flights of stairs three times a day while on the job, with varying numbers of hours built in for recovery. After doing so three times a week for six weeks, those employees who'd been climbing the stairs exhibited better health indicators than a control group which had been staying put.

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There's already a lot of research out there on the dangers of occupational sitting. We've got standing desks on one end of the spectrum and dead butt syndrome and iPad neck on the other. Some lawyers are trying to figure out if office life itself is a workplace hazard. Even all those free snacks might be more of an emotional crutch than a perk. But if you're too frazzled to get more structured exercise in your life, it's worth remembering that any movement is better than no movement at all. The payoff for something as simple as climbing the stairs is pretty outsized, given the effort it requires from most of us. If you're crunched for time, it could be worth your while.