How to Use Topic-Related Body Breaks (reposted)

stretchTake 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 this blog post and do this quick Body Break with you … There now, you probably feel a bit more alert, and perhaps curious, as well.

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 practical 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. 

And be sure to view “Movement Trumps Sitting” on the SHARON’S MICRO-COURSES page, as well as “Move. Don’t. Sit. Still” by TBR Certified Trainer Jimmy Janlen on the SLIDES FROM SLIDESHARE page.


If you really really like knowing the “cognitive neuroscience” behind brain-based presenting and training, consider attending my 2-day  “Training from the BACK of the Room” class – the only public TBR class that I will be facilitating for Spring/Summer 2018. The class will be held in Minneapolis MN on April 12th – 13th 2018. Click HERE for details and registration information (there are still a few seats left). Click HERE for a calendar of all TBR classes for 2018 (classes are being added monthly so check back).

Click on the following blog post for more information about TBR: “What You’ll Learn from Attending a ‘Training from the BACK of the Room’ Class.”

I will also be facilitating the 1-day Trainer Certification Course following the 2-day TBR class in Minneapolis.  This 1-day Trainer Certification Course will give you everything you need to be able to present the “official” 2-day TBR class for your own clients, customers, companies, and educational institutions. (Note: You must have attended a 2-day TBR class in order to attend the 1-day Trainer Certification Course.)

As of now, the April 2018 Trainer Certification Course days being held on April 14th, 15th, 17th, and 19th are sold out. However, there may be a few seats opening up soon in two of the class dates and you can be put on a wait-list for one of these possible seats/dates. 

Click HERE for more information and registration/sign-up for the wait-list for the April 2018 Trainer Certification Course.

Don’t forget to check out the free give-aways on my website’s  “WHAT’S NEW?” page while you’re here 🙂 And please pass this information along to anyone who is interested in exciting, unforgettable, learner-centered, brain-based instruction.



  • Greetings, Ida: How lovely to hear from you! 🙂 Brings back lots of great memories. I’ll follow up with an email – glad you’re finding the blog posts helpful – big hug! Sharon

  • Ida Spitz Swindell

    Thanks, Sharon, I’m going to incorporate these wonderful ideas in my MCT work. Miss you, Ida S. Swindell

Thank you for reading!