Topic-Related Body Breaks

Take a moment right now to roll your neck, stretch your arms above your head, lean back in your chair, and take a few deep breaths. I’ll pause writing and do this quick Body Break with you … There now, you probably feel a bit more alert, and perhaps curious, as well.stretch

Body Breaks are short, quick ways to re-energize the body and to get more oxygen flowing to the brain. The stretches and deep breathing you just did helped to get more oxygen to YOUR brain, thereby making you feel more alert as you are reading this post.

Besides increasing blood circulation and oxygen flow, topic-related Body Breaks also enhance learning and retention because an alert brain can learn and remember more than a lethargic, sleepy one. A topic-related Body Break is one in which learners think about or discuss content you’ve covered while they are stretching or moving.

Consider having learners take one-minute, topic-related Body Breaks before, during, and after lecture segments, before or after a regularly scheduled break, or whenever you think that learners need a boost of oxygen and energy.

Here are three Body Breaks to insert into your classes or training:

1. Sitting Jumping Jacks – They might sound silly, but they create smiles and laughter as well as movement. Someone at each table group begins the Sitting Jumping Jacks by doing the arm motion of a jumping jack (putting their arms up in the air and hands together over their head). As he/she does this, the others in the table group do the movement too. The person leading the movement shares one fact he/she has learned about the topic. Then everyone puts their arms/hands down and the next person in the group repeats the procedure until everyone at each table has had a turn leading a Sitting Jumping Jack and stating a content-related fact.

2. Pen Drop – This is another humorous way to stretch. Learners drop pens on the floor. As they bend to pick up their pens, they blow all the air out of their lungs, then take a deep breath. They can follow the Pen Drop by stretching in place (any movement will do). They end the activity with a Quick Write in which they write a one-sentence summary about what they have learned so far.

3. Stand, Stretch, and Speak – In my opinion, this is the best one-minute Body Break because you can use it often and with many variations to keep it interesting. Learners all stand and stretch in place (they each choose their own way to stretch). Then they turn to a person near them and share one topic-related fact, summary statement, question, or opinion about what they have learned. When done, they sit back down.

You’ll find more Body Breaks in my most current book Using Brain Science to Make Training Stick. You’ll also find a number of them in one of my free articles titled Stand, Stretch, and Speak on the SHARON’S ARTICLES page. 

If you want to see many of these Body Breaks in action, consider attending the train-the-trainer Super Session sponsored by the Association for Talent Development (ATD Sacramento) March 19th – 20th. Hope to see you there!

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