When you are focused on studying or getting that latest assignment done, it can be easy to sit down and look up only to see several hours have passed without noticing. But long periods of sitting have been shown to be detrimental to both our physical and mental health.

Study break exercises

Try to take a physical activity break at least once an hour with these exercises that can be done at or near your desk.

  • Jumping jacks: Try doing 20 jumping jacks to wake yourself up.
  • Squats: Do 10 squats to stretch your legs.
  • Walk up the stairs: Go to the next floor and back down again to stretch your legs.
  • Walk or jog in place: Try walking or jogging in place for 60 seconds.
  • Shoulder shrugs: Do 10-20 to loosen any tension in your shoulders.
  • Try a yoga app: An app like Down Dog has quick yoga sequences that can help you stretch in 15 minutes or less.


Easy Desk Stretches

Working and studying from home can be really hard on your body and mind, so it is important to try and move around a bit each day. Walking around your work space while on the phone or standing while eating a snack are easy ways to become a little less sedentary. As well, stretching a little bit each day can help you avoid things like "tech neck" and back pain. Here are some easy stretches you can do from your desk!

1. Tricep stretch

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2. Neck stretch

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3. Upper body and arm stretch

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4. Shoulder stretch

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5. Trunk rotation stretch

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6. Hip and knee flexion stretch

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7. Hamstring stretch

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8. Shoulder shrug stretch

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Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

There is no doubt that physical exercise improves your health, but it also improves your mental well-being. Specifically, exercising outside, also known as ‘green exercise’, has been shown to have a more positive psychological impact than indoor exercise. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor workouts and why to include them in your routine:

Elevates your self-esteem

A study looking at the effects of ‘green exercise’ noticed that extreme positive effects on self-esteem occurred after five minutes of outdoor exercise. Based on older studies, a short-term mental health improvement is beneficial for health in the long-term as it can protect you from future stresses. As it turns out, exercising outside will make you feel good in the moment and help you in the long term too. Getting in touch with nature never felt so good!

Improves your mood

Do you ever wonder why you feel more enthusiastic after a walk outdoors during your break? Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia found that those who were frequently physically active outdoors had higher serotonin and endorphin levelsthan those who were exercising indoors. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood and contributes to feeling happy while endorphins trigger a positive feeling as well. This suggests that outdoor exercise releases feel good hormones that immediately make you happier.

Burns more calories

Being outdoors has been shown to burn more calories through the amount of energy that is required based on environmental factors. For example, running outdoors may require more energy than a treadmill due to wind resistance. Not only that but physical activity in a climate controlled environment, such as a gym, provides less of a challenge for the body which burns less calories.

More likely to continue exercising

Research has shown that due to the stimulating outdoor environment, people are more likely to exercise longer and more often when outdoors. The simple enjoyment of being outdoors and visual distraction decreases our rate of perceived exertion while simultaneously improving our mood. As a result, there is a greater intent to continue and adhere to a workout schedule.

Boost your immune system

Another perk to outdoor physical activity is the ‘immunizing effect’ it can have. Exercise alone contributes to good health, and therefore to a healthy immune system. Being outdoors, specifically in forests, has a similar effect on our body. The cellular activity within natural forestsincludes microorganisms and compounds given off by plants which offer a boost to our immune system.

It’s easier

Research has shown that exercising outside is perceived as less strenuous than doing the same exercise inside. Your environment plays a vital role in improving your mood, which is why feeling happier leads to perceiving an action as less work. Given that being outdoors leads to an increase in happiness, it is no surprise that changing your workout location has such a big impact on your mood!

Things to keep in mind when exercising outside

  • Wear sunscreen: If you plan on going outside, it is important to wear sunscreen even if it is cloudy. Apply sun protection with 30 SPF or higher to ensure that you’re getting enough protection.
  • Stay hydrated: As you exercise outside, you are at a greater risk of dehydration due to warmer temperatures.  To combat this, make sure to drink water before, during and after you exercise.
  • Dress according to the weather: Warm weather during exercise will cause your core temperature to rise faster. For a comfortable work out, wear light and loose clothing!

If you are looking for other opportunities to get physically active on campus, check out the Athletics and Recreation website. They offer many different ways to get your body moving including gym facilities, clubs, and intramural teams.