Interested in the science behind energizer activities?

– Head of research Rasmus Friis explains

pleazer, pleaz, active break exercise snack

Why do it?

  • Feeling more refreshed

  • Increased memory and ability to process information

  • Positive effects on work performance, general well-being and clinical disease risk indicators.

The science

The purpose of an energizer is to quickly increase your heart rate and blood flow, bringing renewed energy to your brain. Through the blood your brain and working muscles are supplied with more oxygen, blood glucose (energy) and nutrients. This makes your brain process information more effectively and allows it to efficiently clear toxins. As a result you will experience a feeling of being more awake and refreshed. An active break of only 4 minutes affect your ability to focus and concentrate for up to an hour.

When you start moving the increase in heart rate is caused by an immediate secretion of the hormone adrenaline and its cousin noradrenalin. Elevated levels of noradrenaline in certain areas of the brain also wakes up your brain and improves your self-esteem. 

Exercise also boosts the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which  improves your mood and feelings of wellness by activating the brain’s reward system. Whereas dopamine jump-starts your attention system, serotonin stimulates cellular connections in your brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. Dopamine is all about motivation and attention, while serotonin will help you learn as well as remembering.

Performing energizers on a regular basis have shown positive effects on academic and work performance indicators (e.g., work productivity), general well-being (psychosocial factors such as stress) and clinical disease risk indicators (e.g. blood pressure and BMI).

Take-home message

When doing the energizers – keep doors and windows open to avoid lack of oxygen in the room.

  • Physical activity in the afternoon (towards the end of the work day) increases learning and memory abilities
  • You get the best effect from exercises that activate larger groups of muscles.

Bedtime reading if you are a nerd like us

Barr-Anderson, D., AuYoung, M., Whitt-Glover, M. C., Glenn, B. A. & Yancey, A. K. (2011). Integration of Short Bouts of Physical Activity Into Organizational Routine. American Journal of Preventive Medicine; 40(1):pp. 76 –93

Carter, S. E., Jones, M., & Gladwell, V. F. (2015). Energy expenditure and heart rate response to breaking up sedentary time with three different physical activity interventions. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD, pp. 503-509.

Ratey, J. & Hagerman, E. (2008). SPARK: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. New York. Little, Brown.

Widmaier, E. P., Raff, H., & Strang, K. T. (2014). Cardiovascular Physiology. In E. P. Widmaier, H. Raff, & K. T. Strang, Vander’s Human Physiology – The Mechanisms of Body Function (pp. 363-445). New York: McGraw Hill.

Widmaier, E. P., Raff, H., & Strang, K. T. (2014). Respiratory Physiology. In E. P. Widmaier, H. Raff, & K. T. Strang, Vander’s Human Physiology – The Mechanisms of Body Function (pp. 446-489). New York: McGraw Hill.

This post is also available in: Danish