5 minute breaks for health and productivity

A time management method named after a tomato, working shorter, not longer, and  better health while getting more done


Sounds too good to be true, like that ‘one weird thing’ headline that you see in your Facebook feed, and want to click on but don’t.

This, however,  is not a trick…


Everyone wants to be healthier

How do you measure ‘move more,’ anyway? How much more is more?

Besides, we’re starting to understand that it’s not always about moving more, but moving more often.


Everyone wants to be more productive

We’ve all read dozens of articles on how to work more efficiently, all the while we’re not actually working.

Instead of working, we’re following the links to yet more articles on how to…




snow squirrel 1377032_74529201

Yeah, we are easily distracted, by anything and everything on the internet, just like we are by the squirrels in the neighborhood.

We know we need to limit ourselves, but we don’t want to, so Facebook and Twitter time comes between us and our productivity.

We want to, but we don’t.


5 minutes is all I ask

That’s all the time it’s going to take to read this, and it’s all the time you’ll need to get your body healthier and refresh your mind.

5 minutes will immediately make you healthier, allow you to do more and better work, and still allow you to have time to do what you love. …or at least can’t resist, like Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

And yes, there are studies. This is science based, so references at the bottom.


The Pomodoro Technique

pomodoro 829950_12188689

Meaning tomato in Italian, this time management and productivity method was named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer of the inventor.

It is based on the concept that we can concentrate well for small, defined, and manageable chunks of time. In the case of Pomodoro, it’s based on 30 minute cycles, where you work for twenty five minutes, and refresh for five minutes, then repeat as necessary.

Pomodoro, in and of itself, has nothing to do with health; it’s about time management and productivity, but it works perfectly with studies that have shown us that similar cycles of work and breaks lead to better health.

Better health, in this case, is defined as improved cardiovascular function, lower blood sugar levels, and reduced insulin response.


American Diabetes Association –doi: 10.2337/dc11-1931

Before the idea of ‘light breaks’ scares you away, in the case of the studies, these breaks were merely getting up and walking around for 5 minutes. Not walking hard. Not exercising. Walking.

In fact, they also looked at people who took higher exertion breaks, and found that harder wasn’t better.

It was the breaks that mattered, not the level of exertion.

Easy. …and only 5 minutes.


Pomodoro for Health and Productivity

  • 25 minutes of work
  • 5 minutes of movement break
  • Resist the urge to keep going after 25 minutes. Mark your place, take your break, and come back better than ever!
  • Repeat up to 4 cycles, after which you take a 15-30 minimum break before doing more cycles
  • The longer breaks are the perfect time for lunch, walking to the coffee house, or checking in on Facebook.


“Dude, I just pomodoroed the $#!@ outta my day. I think I got it. You are correct re: simplicity.” – Dani


Pomodoro Tips

Il_pomodoro timer tomato creative commons croppedUse a kitchen timer as the inventor did, or just use the built in timer on your phone. You can find apps on your phone or computer, or even use your microwave oven. Don’t worry about the perfect tool today, there’s plenty of time to get geeky later.

Planning is simple because each cycle is 30 minutes, you can easily see how your day can be broken into many manageable chunks.

You don’t have to sit down to do Pomodoro. Trying to use a standing desk? 25 minutes is a manageable amount of time to stand, especially when it’s new to you. Add more standing Pomodoros later.

Keep movement breaks easy by starting with walking to the bathroom, puttering around the house, making coffee, taking out the trash, walking the dog. Start off easy, and refresh your mind and body before getting back to work. More frequent breaks and movements are the goals, not perfection.



The Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting on Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease, db07-0882v2, 56/11/2655

American Diabetes Association –doi: 10.2337/dc11-1931


Let me know how the Pomodoro Technique works for you!

I’m loving it!



3 thoughts on “5 minute breaks for health and productivity

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