The Science and Benefits of MicroMove’s Exercises for Improving Health and Well-Being

MicroMove
8 min readNov 25, 2022

MicroMove’s Chrome extension includes a growing library of short exercises based on scientific resources we have found on the web.

These micro exercises are designed to boost your energy, improve your posture, relieve stress and increase focus, and are categorised by:

  • ‍Breath: a range of breathing techniques.‍
  • Body: movement exercises for your neck, shoulders, back, arms and eyes.‍
  • Mind: voice-guided meditations and soundscapes.

Below is a list of all current exercises and their respective benefits. And at the end you can find all the scientific research used to design our exercises.

Breath Exercises

Slow Breath

This breathing technique lowers your heart rate and blood pressure while reducing stress and relieving the mind. Slow and controlled breathing with an extended exhale triggers the body’s natural relaxation response.

Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire energises you quickly. It integrates a fast-paced active exhale and passive inhale, both equal in length to get you activated. It can optimise performance and improve reaction times. It works by boosting the processing capability of the central nervous system. It can be applied in situations requiring faster reactivity as in sports. Moreover, this breath also strengthens the abdominal muscles and improves digestion.

Alive Breath

This breathing type was designed to be immediately stimulating. It boosts alertness, energy, and the amount of oxygen in your body. It’s perfect for whenever you need a quick boost. It also helps increase your adrenaline and blood alkalinity. It activates your body’s natural flight or fight response by stimulating your sympathetic nervous system which increases alertness, concentration, and energy.

Reboot Breath

This breath is famously used by the Navy SEALs. It’s effective for increasing concentration, balance, energy, and performance. It also helps you cope with panic and stress when feeling overwhelmed. Intentional deep breathing soothes and regulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The slow holding of breath allows CO2 to build up in the blood. An increased blood CO2 enhances the cardio-inhibitory response of the vagus nerve when you exhale and stimulates your parasympathetic system. This produces a calm and relaxed feeling in the mind and body.

Relief Breath

This exercise helps you in the state of high anxiety. It calms the mind, while lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. Slow and controlled breathing with a long exhale triggers the body’s natural relaxation response, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This breathing technique also helps you increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, which is lower when you are under stress and anxiety.

Resilience Breath

This breathing exercise increases your ability to utilise oxygen and stay calm under pressure. It increases your tolerance to CO2 to mobilise more O2 from your blood to the cells of your body. This technique is practiced by free-divers to build up their tolerance to CO2 and lower levels of oxygen. When we can tolerate higher levels of CO2 we become more resilient to all kinds of stress whether physical, mental or emotional.

Alleviate Breath

Slow and controlled diaphragm breathing helps lower heart rate, blood pressure, and calm the mind. It also triggers the body’s natural relaxation response, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Clarity Breath

This breathing technique makes you feel clear, calm, and focused at work. The rhythmic breath is fast enough to engage and prevent mind wandering. Simultaneously, the rhythmic nature is slow enough (10 breaths per minute) to provide positive stimulation to the autonomic nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and calm the mind.

Euphoria Breath

In this exercise, we use a cyclical breathing technique where the inhale moves directly into the exhale and the exhale directly into the inhale without pausing. This technique is a foundational practice for a lot of longer breath-work sessions and can stimulate transformative thoughts and experiences that can be therapeutic. This breathing technique is designed to take you into a state of heightened perception and relaxation.

Lucidity Breath

This exercise helps reduce stress, anxiety, and overthinking. It is also a great practice if you just want to feel more present. Slow and controlled breathing with a long humming exhale triggers the body’s natural relaxation response. This lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and clears the mind.

Reset Breath

This breathing technique helps you quickly reset your carbon dioxide levels and mental state. Also known as the “physiological sigh”, this breath can be used to quickly relax. Sighing acts as a reset button for both your breathing and emotional state. This can be useful between work meetings, just before a presentation or anytime you need a quick recovery.

Focus Breath

This exercises increases your focus, awareness, and lung function. This type of breathing works by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress and blood pressure, while also increasing awareness and respiratory endurance. It also helps balance the levels of O2 in each nasal cavity, which can lead to more clarity.

Lion’s Breath

Lion’s Breath alleviates stress and anxiety in the body by engaging specific muscles in the face with a slow and firm exhale through the mouth. We often carry tension in the face, neck and jaw region and this breathing technique stimulates a broad sheet of muscle fibres to relax it. By stretching and bringing energy up we can feel an instant alleviation of stress in that area.

Boost Breath

This breath was designed to instantly increase your energy, elevate your mood, raise blood oxygen levels, and get you focused. It stimulates your endocrine system to release adrenaline and noradrenaline, which wakes up your body and makes it alert. When you do the 20 hyperventilations, you increase the oxygen in your blood and get rid of CO2. The breath hold after the 20 hyperventilations is important because it builds up the amount of CO2 in your blood so all the new oxygen in your blood can enter your cells. This exercise also stimulates the production of red blood cells, which increases your body’s ability to absorb oxygen and reduces fatigue.

Body Exercises

Neck Stretch

Stretching your neck can help reduce tension, increase your flexibility and range of motion, improve your performance, and prevent injury. The neck is an important structure that supports the head and the cervical spine. Because of this, the neck experiences stress and tension, leading to pain. When the neck and upper back muscles become weakened, the head sags forward and increased stress is placed on the cervical spine, which can lead to severe neck pain. Neck stretching exercises can expand or preserve the range of motion and elasticity in joints and thus relieve the stiffness in those areas. Strengthening these muscles can also help improve posture and get the head close to neutral position.

Y & W Exercise

This exercise was designed to help you quickly increase your energy. Stretching and strengthening your muscles while sitting can increase blood circulation throughout your body which in effect reduces fatigue. It also helps with balance and improving your stability.

Standing Pose

This practice helps strengthen leg muscles and improve balance. Often times we aren’t standing as much as we should be. Standing is better for the back than sitting and is a great antidote to formation of blood clots deep in the legs.

Soleus Pushup

Soleus is a flat muscle below the calf. Despite it being small (only 1% of total muscle mass), moving it while sitting can have huge benefits including regulating your blood sugar levels and improving your balance when you stand. Doing soleus pushups will reduce fatigue and improve your metabolism.

Eye Relax

Relaxing your eyes like closing them or intentionally blinking will reduce stress and make you feel calm instantly. Looking at digital devices can cause strain and unpleasant symptoms. When staring at screens there is a substantial deficit in blinking, which can lead to dry, irritated and tired eyes. Eye strain caused by screens is called computer vision syndrome (CSV). Frequently resting our eyes allows the optic nerve to rest, and help relax the entire body.

Mind Exercises

Meditations

We have various guided meditations. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, learning, mood and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Guided meditations help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) while enhancing your focus. They can also help you wind down by calming down your sympathetic nervous system.

When you close your eyes, you turn off your exteroceptive perception which senses anything outside of us (sounds, objects, etc) and you heighten your awareness of what is going on inside of your body including bodily sensation and emotions. This puts you in an optimal position to make better decisions.

Meditation stimulates the left prefrontal cortex of your brain which puts you in a great position to interpret what’s going on with you emotionally and also interpret bodily signals of comfort or discomfort to make good decisions on the basis of that interpretation. It can help you gain clarity by strengthening your self-awareness through introspection. It is a practice of refocusing. The better you become in the skill of refocusing the less you will swing between the polarity of opposing emotions.

Introspective meditation practices cultivate awareness of bodily sensations in or on your skin. You can heighten your awareness of your bodily sensations the more you practice. There are numerous studies proving that there is a direct correlation between being present to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling with being more happy.

40-Hz Binaural Beats Soundscape

Listening to 40-Hz binaural beats can help you focus and improve your cognitive function. It can induce gamma oscillation in several brain areas. These patterns improve working memory function and help balance emotional states.

When two tones of slightly different frequencies are played in separate ears simultaneously (through headphones), the human brain perceives the creation of a new, third tone, which is called Binaural Beats. A 40 Hz binaural beat is the most beneficial for enhancing focus and generating improvement in cognition. For maximum effect, listen to it before working or learning.

Brown Noise Soundscape

Brown noise can help you relax, and improve focus and sleep quality. Listening to brown noise can reduce excessive overthinking or worrying by redirecting your attention.

Brown noise blocks out external sounds and distractions and be used in many different ways. Compared to white and pink noise, brown noise uses mostly lower frequencies and is considered the most soothing to listen to of the three.

White Noise Soundscape

White noise is great for helping you sleep, study or focus. The effects of white noise upon cognitive function are mixed. It improves cognitive functioning, as well as mood and performance by masking background noise. Experiments have shown that white noise improves our learning abilities and our recognition memory slightly.

We’re always adding more micro exercises to our library. If you have any questions about this or anything else, feel free to reach out anytime at hello@micromove.io.

Here are the scientific resources we have used when curating and designing our micro exercises:

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/neurobiology-and-neurophysiology-breath-practices-psychiatric-care

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022395607001033?via%3Dihub

https://breathe.ersjournals.com/content/13/4/298

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5613197_Immediate_effect_of_high-frequency_yoga_breathing_on_attention

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6342022/

https://hypoxico.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/intermittent-hypoxic-training-on-aerobic-capacity-and-endurance-performance-in-cyclists.pdf

https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/1436477

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28954895/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5613197_Immediate_effect_of_high-frequency_yoga_breathing_on_attention

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25234581/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30761030/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32366866/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9082790/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10629486/

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/16/9/1835/1877303

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01243.x

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-201X.1996.557321000.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5382821/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-42552-9

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23029969/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29771730/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016643281830322X?via%3Dihub

https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1192439

https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(22)01141-5?_returnURL=https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S2589004222011415%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

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MicroMove
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A Chrome extension that includes guided 1-minute exercises designed to boost your energy, improve your posture, and reduce stress while working at your desk.