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Recess Recommended

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Remember how much you looked forward to recess? As a youngster it was a chance to tune out for a short while and goof around with friends. While you probably weren’t able to articulate it then, you somehow knew that it gave you a much needed boost for the balance of the day.

A new survey reveals that working adults would welcome the introduction of workplace recess -- and experts believe the benefits are significant.

The “Survey on Workplace Recess,” conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2011 on behalf of KEEN, Inc. -- a manufacturer of hybrid outdoor and casual footwear, bags and socks -- revealed that more than half (53 percent ) of the 1,099 U.S. adults surveyed who are employed full-time indicated that a 10-minute “recess” outdoor break at their workplace every day would make them healthier, happier or more productive employees. Forty-one percent welcomed this concept of an outdoor break to help them deal with stressful situations at work, and more than one-third (35 percent) indicated that it would make employees more productive during the workday.

“We realize that our concept of recess -- a 10-minute activity break … to escape the daily grind at work to get out and play -- is new to most working adults,” says James Curleigh, CEO and chief recess officer, KEEN, Inc. “More than 70 percent of full-time employed adults said they’ve never participated in a paid recess-type break outside of lunchtime. As chief recess officer… I encourage all of our employees and employees everywhere to walk away from their desks and re-energize by reclaiming 10 minutes of playtime a day and get outside to breathe the good air.”

“People are leading increasingly digital and sedentary lifestyles [and] obesity rates continue to grow,” says Dr. Toni Yancey, author of Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time and co-director of the Center for Health Equity and professor of health services at UCLA.
“In recent workplace studies I’ve conducted with my team, short activity breaks during the day, which KEEN refers to as “recess,” have proven to be beneficial for one’s personal health and well-being, ranging from lifting one’s mood, improving productivity and aiding with weight control,” Yancey explains. “If employers offered and encouraged a paid activity break during the day, it would offer a real return on investment for them – delivering $1.50-$2.00 for every dollar spent implementing the program, according to our estimates.”

Forty-four percent of full-time employed adults indicated that they would participate in recess if it were offered at their workplace, with the greatest interest among women (53 percent) and Millennials (51 percent). Yancey maintains that if employers would commit to this 10-minute paid activity break a day, they would be taking steps to help get America moving and healthy again -- much as smoking bans galvanized tobacco control efforts three decades ago.

Seventy-eight percent of full-time employed adults felt that certain factors would need to be in place for recess to be a part of the workday, including encouragement from top management (39 percent), participation from their boss and/or colleagues (25 percent, a designated time of day for recess to avoid scheduling conflicts (35 percent), offering recess during designated paid time (35 percent) and recess becoming part of the company culture (33 percent).