Long classes deserve breaks

Classes that run for more than 90 minutes should allow students to have breaks. That seems logical, right? To be fair, most of the classes I’ve taken in college have allowed that, but there’s been a few that haven’t.

I once had a class that was listed on the schedule as running two hours and 50 minutes. On the first day of class, the professor asked if we would rather have a five minute break or shorten the class by 20 minutes. The class unanimously voted to have the class run 20 minutes shorter.

Even with the shorter class time, sitting for two and a half hours without breaks was not easy. I generally felt more focused in the first half of class than in the second half because sitting for over two hours without moving around made me feel tired. I definitely could have used a break to gather my thoughts so I could have more of a drive to write down my notes.

I’ve written before about the effects of sitting for too long. A 2011 study by the European Heart Journal found it leads to higher cholesterol and is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Allowing students to get up and move around, even for just a short amount of time, would be a good way for students to fight the problems brought on by sitting too long. It also would provide them with opportunities to use the bathroom or check their phones so they aren’t interrupting class.

As for classes that run for 75 minutes, I don’t think those need to have breaks. It’s a short amount of time for professors to teach their subjects and taking breaks would just decrease their time. For classes that run 90 minutes or longer, that’s more than enough to set aside time for short breaks. It doesn’t have to be more than 5-10 minutes, depending on how long the class is. Most long classes do this, but I would like it if all of them did it.

Nick Sestanovich can be reached at [email protected] or @Nsestanovich on Twitter.