An increasing number of business leaders and employees spend their days sitting, often in front of computers, rarely taking the necessary breaks to help their minds and bodies perform at optimum levels.

Our bodies, by nature, were meant to move. But as our culture and work tasks have changed, employees sit more. Seventy percent of the American workforce primarily performs seated tasks. Regular movement improves blood flow to the body, and especially the brain, which helps to maintain productivity through better mental alertness and processing. Taking regular breaks every hour that include standing up and walking for 1-2 minutes or longer will actually help you to be more productive than just working non-stop. By staying ahead of the discomfort and tension associated with sitting and looking at a computer, you keep your mind and body fresh to focus on the required task. To make sure you take regular movement breaks, set an hourly timer reminder and get up. Many smart watches have this feature.

If you sit all day, don’t sit at lunch, take the time to stand and move including trying to walk for 15 minutes. If every employee walked or jogged for an extra 15 minutes each day, the world could see an economic boost of $100 billion, according to a new report by RAND Europe and Vitality Health Insurance Group on the economic benefits of a more physically active population. The benefits are 70% linked to reduced presenteeism or essentially being at work but not fully functioning. So get over the mindset that you are wasting time by taking breaks, because you are actually making yourself more productive by stimulating your mind and body.

Even ideal sitting posture, which almost no one maintains, puts excessive stress on the neck, shoulders, back and legs due to static muscle loading and holding weight of the body after 20 minutes. There is no substitute for taking breaks and moving. Current research indicates that varying work positions throughout the day coupled with tailored breaks and exercise can reduce back and other pains by more than 80%.

Jason Horras, Doctor of Physical Therapy