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The 5 Best Health And Productivity Hacks For Busy Professionals

Written by: Timo Topp, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Timo Topp

As a busy business owner, leader, creative, or corporate professional, the biggest obstacle to maintaining good health is often work itself – a hectic schedule and insufficient time for self-care. However, health and productivity go hand in hand, making it essential to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. In this article, I will share my five favorite scientifically proven health hacks that can boost brain power, enhance performance, and prevent burnout. These strategies are simple, require minimal time and effort, and offer significant returns for achieving well-balanced work and personal wellbeing.

A young man is working on a computer in the bright office.

1. Breathe through your nose for a 20% increase in oxygenation

Breathing is fundamental to life, and how effectively we do it impacts our health and performance. Many of us have never been taught to breathe effectively, except in Eastern practices like martial arts or yoga. However, paying more attention to our breathing can lead to a remarkable change in how we feel and perform.

Breathing through the nose has been shown to be 20% more effective at oxygenating the blood, resulting in a substantial enhancement for something we do every minute of every day. The nose's primary purpose is breathing, and it filters, moistens, and warms the air before it reaches the lungs. Moreover, nose breathing releases nitric oxide, increasing carbon dioxide in the blood, which facilitates the release of more oxygen.

On the other hand, mouth breathing does not effectively filter, moisten, or warm the air, nor does it efficiently release nitric oxide. This could lead to reduced oxygen supply to cells, potentially causing fatigue and stress.

Topp Tip: Optimize oxygenation and enhance physical and mental performance by breathing through your nose.

Read more about better breathing here.

2. Stand up once for 30 minutes of physiological benefit

While we are well aware of the importance of regular exercise and reaching 10,000 daily steps, we often overlook the hazards of prolonged sitting and being sedentary which can negatively impact our wellbeing. Studies have indicated that working out may not fully counteract the adverse effects of sitting all day. In other words, your gym session might not be sufficient to compensate for a sedentary day at work.

NASA life scientist Joan Vernikos, in her book 'Sitting Kills, Movement Heals,' points out that standing up once has the same physiological stimulus as remaining standing for 30 minutes. This simple action offers substantial health benefits for minimal effort.

Topp Tip: Prioritize exercise but also take regular breaks from sitting by standing up every 60-90 minutes to invest in your wellbeing, improve cognitive function, and reduce stress.

3. Walk faster, live longer

Research conducted by the University of Leicester reveals that walking at a brisk pace can extend your lifespan. The study, which analyzed genetic data from over 400,000 UK adults, identified a clear link between walking pace and a genetic marker of biological age.

Faster walking, independent of physical activity level, was associated with longer telomeres – protective caps at the end of chromosomes that safeguard DNA from damage. Conversely, slower walking speeds can indicate a higher risk of chronic diseases and unhealthy aging.

Other studies suggest that walking faster could be associated with up to a 15-year increase in life expectancy. By maintaining a brisk walking pace, especially as we age and tend to slow down, we can take a positive step toward better health and longevity and you get to where you want to go faster and more productively!

Topp Tip: Increase your walking pace to enhance overall health and enhance longevity.

Read more about the link between walking pace and health here.

4. Take short breaks to boost brain function

As ambitious professionals, we may feel driven to work non-stop and forgo breaks to meet deadlines. However, research conducted at Microsoft Human Factors lab in 2022 demonstrates the importance of taking short breaks to work smarter and maintain wellbeing and prevent burnout.

An illustration of meeting 1-4.

In the study, participants' brain activity was measured using ECG scans. One group engaged in back-to-back 30-minute meetings for two hours, while the other group was given 10 minute breaks between each meeting. The results indicated that breaks allow the brain to reset, reducing cumulative stress and improving engagement. Conversely, back-to-back meetings hindered focus and performance.

Topp Tip: Prioritize short breaks throughout the day such as making time to eat lunch away from your desk for improved focus, engagement, and reduced stress.

Read more about the significance of taking breaks here.

5. A 26-minute nap for a 33% increase in job performance

Daytime napping is often misconceived as laziness, but research by NASA suggests otherwise. Studies with pilots showed that a specific 23-minute nap can improve alertness by up to 54% and enhance job performance by 34% compared to those who didn't nap.

Napping has been found to boost memory, mood, performance, and brain function while reducing stress. It can also help compensate for inadequate sleep from the previous night.

However, it's crucial to keep naps under 30 minutes to avoid interfering with sleep pressure, which accumulates throughout the day and helps you to drift off to sleep at night. Napping for too long can have negative effects on your ability to sleep at night.

Topp Tip: Harness the power of a short nap to increase productivity and performance, especially if you had insufficient sleep the night before.

Read more about the perfect length for a power nap here.

The instant energy action plan

You can combine several of the strategies mentioned here into my workbeing: Instant Energy Action Plan.

A workbeing energiser plan.

Every 60-90 minutes stop and take a short break: get up from your chair, stretch up, take some deep breathes and drink some water. This is a very simple way to invest in your wellbeing at work and improve your productivity and performance.

Free report

Find out more about workbeing. Get in touch to receive my Free Report: Workbeing: The art of being healthy, happy and productive at work full of simple strategies to invest in your health and productivity when you lead a busy professional life.

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Timo ToppBrainz Magazine

Timo Topp, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Timo Topp is a world leader in the wellbeing space with 30 years of experience, working as a coach, author and speaker. It his purpose and passion to help people to live healthier, happier lives. Timo is the creator of 'WORKBEING' a workplace wellbeing philosophy that empowers busy professional people to live healthier lives at work so that businesses can thrive. He is also the author of the book EAT, MOVE, LIVE – An authentic approach to look and feel your best for life. Timo’s philosophy to optimal well-being is based on ‘simplicity, sustainability, success’ so you can look, feel and perform at your best, for life.


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