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How to take regular breaks at work

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

It makes sense to take regular breaks at work – sitting too much has been blamed for contributing to health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even dying sooner. However, we all know that getting up from our office chairs at regular intervals is easier said than done. This article takes a look at research into the best strategies for helping us to get off our butts more regularly. Remember, if you need more help with an injury, you're welcome to consult one of our physios online via video call.


What are the best methods to make sure that you take regular breaks at work?

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Every time I see a headline that reads something like “Sitting is The New Smoking”, I want to jump up and scream “LET ME STAAAAAAAND”, but then I start typing and it is only when my bladder wants to burst that I realise that I have been sitting in the same position for the last four hours!


It is so stupid … it doesn’t cost me anything. I don’t have to drink any tablets, sweat, give up chocolate, or drink horrible green smoothies. ALL I HAVE TO DO IS STAND UP EVERY NOW AND AGAIN, and I still don’t do it.



It seems that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Researchers from King’s College London have compared the effectiveness of 38 ways of getting people to sit less at work.


Interestingly, they found that focusing on taking breaks to do some physical activity is not an effective way to reduce prolonged sitting. Strategies that focus on making people aware of how much time they spend sitting seem to work better.


Some of the most effective strategies were found to be:

  • Encouraging people to keep records of their sitting time.

  • Setting individual goals for limiting sitting time.

  • Using prompts and cues to remind people to stop sitting. (There are several free apps for this. Some of them are even clever enough to detect when you are taking a break and when you are sitting.)

  • Using a sit-stand desk. Try to work standing up for at least 20 minutes every hour. You can get a laptop stand to put on your sit-only desk for as little as £20 – not a big price to pay for prolonging your life. But you can also improvise and place a box or books under your laptop.

Here are a few examples of laptop stands:


If you need more workspace while standing or if you work on a desktop computer, there are many other sit-stand options. (You can find more advice about desk ergonomics here.)


Some sit-stand desk solutions:


How we can help


Need more help with your injury? You’re welcome to consult one of the team at SIP online via video call for an assessment of your injury and a tailored treatment plan.

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About the Author

Maryke Louw is a chartered physiotherapist with more than 20 years' experience and a Masters Degree in Sports Injury Management. Follow her on LinkedIn or ResearchGate.

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