SEREMBAN: Civil servants can now take a 15-minute break during working hours to do light exercises, said Public Service Department director-general Datuk Seri Borhan Dolah.
They could opt for brisk walking, walking up and down the stairs, star jumps or other light exercises with music, he said.
To be known as x-breaks, Borhan said these employees could have it in the morning or evening.
They could choose to take a complete 15-minute break, or stagger it for three sessions of five minutes each.
These x-breaks could be done in groups or individually, he said, adding that they need not change their attire when they do the light exercise.
Borhan, who made this known in a directive on Wednesday, said those exempted from x-breaks were security personnel, uniformed staff carrying out enforcement work and counter staff dealing with a high volume of clients.
“Medical staff who are stationed in wards and health clinics as well as teachers involved in lessons in classrooms will also be exempted.
“All ministries and government agencies are given the flexibility to implement this based on their operating hours and convenience but it should not affect the public delivery system.
“These light exercises can be conducted during meetings, discussions, course work, workshops or even at their work stations,” he said.
Department heads, he said, must work out suitable times and types of exercises that were to be carried out.
Borhan said the move to have x-breaks was endorsed by the Cabinet last month.
The intention, he said, was to allow civil servants to be physically active.
He said the move was also in line with a call by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had previously suggested that government offices and the private sector allocate 15 minutes for exercise as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle.
A Health Ministry study showed that almost 34% of civil servants and 30% private sector employees were inactive.
This has placed Malaysia among the top 10 countries in terms of treatment for patients with diabetes.
Borhan said taking short breaks would be beneficial as it could help ward off illnesses.
“Spending too much time in front of the computer or the entire day in a meeting could pose health risks to individuals and the risk of non-communicable diseases,” he said.
He said studies conducted had also shown that sitting for long hours could also pose other health risks such as heart problems, diabetes and hypertension.