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On-Site Staff / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

5 Move and Groove Breaks for the New Year

adult and youth take a physical activity break to stretch on yoga mat

photo of supplies used to create Mystery Exercise BoxAre you ready to add some movement and joy to your trainings and meetings this year? If so, this short article is for you. As programming and conferences have shifted to virtual formats, many of us are spending a lot more time in front of our screens. In the digital world, it can be extra challenging to feel connected and engaged.

So, how can we create impactful learning experiences while also working towards daily physical activity goals? Add a “move and groove” physical activity break to your routine! Try one of the options below or design your own!

1 – “Prayer Hands” from Deskercise!


  • Seated upright with feet flat on the floor, bring palms together in front of your chest.
  • Push both hands together powerfully until you feel your arm and chest muscles contract; hold for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat twice.

2 – Simple Forearm and Wrist Stretch


  • Take a break from your computer and find empty wall space.
  • Place your hand on the wall with your arm straight out.
  • With your palm against the wall begin to turn your wrist so your fingers are pointing down toward the floor.
  • Feel the stretch from your forearm through your wrist; hold it as long as you’d like.
  • Switch hands.

3 – Mystery Exercise Box (simplified)

colorful popsicle sticks with physical activity cues written on themInstructions:

  • Tear or cut a scrap sheet of paper into multiple strips.
  • Using big bold letters, write a simple activity like reach to the sky, jog in place, and lunges on each strip of paper. Fold the pieces of paper and put them in a cup or hat.
  • Randomly select an activity and do the movement.


  • Consider using Picker Wheel and populate the wheel with movements that your teammates or students choose.
  • Share your screen so everyone can see the wheel spin and determine what activity everyone will do together – the sound effects make it even more fun!
  • Feeling crafty? Try another version of this activity called Fit Sticks!

4 – Getting-to-Know-You Icebreaker


  • On your next video call, tell participants you’ll be doing an active icebreaker together.
  • Encourage everyone to find something of a particular color in one minute – don’t forget to set a timer!
  • Ask everyone to bring the item they find back for a quick “show and tell” as part of their introduction.
  • For example, if the color was green, you might bring back a plant with a meaningful story to share with the group. It’s a great way to foster connectedness while encouraging a much-needed break.

* Shout out to my friend Marisol at the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals for this idea.

5 – Physical Activity Waterfall (from Back to School Guide for grades 9-12)


  • Explain that during this move and groove break, participants will share their favorite physical activity.
  • After everyone shares, all participants will mirror that movement plus the movements that came before it.
  • For example, if Michelle “makes snow angels” and then Daniel “makes snowballs,” everyone will make snow angels and then snowballs.
  • Continue to add movements for as long as you’d like the break to last.

BONUS: Active Newsletters

AstroSloth logoWhy not put a surprise video in your next e-newsletter encouraging your readers to take a physical activity break? AstroSloth is one of my favorites and it only takes 3 minutes. It’s a simple way to encourage those you work with to slow down, smile, and take a deep breath.

Which of these move and groove breaks will you try? Let me know how it goes and share your favorites on Twitter.

For even more resources to support the physical and social-emotional health of students, staff and families, explore the Healthier Generation Action Center.

For breakfast, I had a banana smoothie.

Author: @danielh

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