Comparison of rest-break interventions during a mentally demanding task
Stress and Health, 2018, Vol 34, Issue 5, Pages 629-638
Research is scarce on ways to enhance the effect of rest breaks during mentally demandingtasks. The present study investigated the effectiveness of two rest‐break interventionson well‐being during an academic lecture. Sixty‐six students (53 females, mean age22.5 years) enrolled in two different university classes of 4‐hr duration participatedin the study. Two measures of well‐being (fatigue and vigor) were assessed immediatelybefore, after, and 20 minutes after the break. A control condition without a breakas well as an unstructured break was compared with breaks either encompassing physicalactivity or a relaxation exercise. Compared with the nonbreak condition, the unstructuredrest break led to an increase in vigor, the exercise break as well as the relaxationbreak both to an increase in vigor and a decrease in fatigue at 20‐min post break.Compared with the unstructured break, exercise led to an (additional) increase invigor and relaxation to an (additional) decrease in fatigue at 20‐min post break.Thus, the effects of rest breaks during mentally demanding tasks can be enhanced byengaging in physical activity or relaxation exercises, with effects lasting at leastas long as 20 min into the continuation of the task.