It’s time to get up and start moving! This is the message of Anni Havas and Veera Sääski, both alumni of the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. As wellbeing experts, they emphasize the significance of microbreaks throughout the workday. As is evidenced by recent research, microbreaks during the workday improve working efficiency and decrease absences from work due to illness. Both women work for Cuckoo, which introduced a wellbeing app for workplaces.

Anni Havas was raised in a sports-oriented family near Jyväskylä. Both her parents were educated in sports so the Sport and Health Sciences programs were a natural choice for Anni. The faculty’s Social Sciences of Sport was the best main subject choice because Anni didn’t plan on a teacher’s career.

Veera Sääski comes from the Helsinki metropolitan area. She has a longstanding basketball background. Veera took an interest in social sciences of sport because one of her school assignments was reading the master’s thesis written by her coach. Veera reminisces, “That’s what got me hooked and I decided to apply for the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences,” Veera reminisces.

The Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences offered Anni and Veera much more than they had expected, both as a place of study and a social community. The social sciences programme of the faculty comprise a small group of students, which resulted in the development of a very tight community. Additionally, the community that started at the Liikunnan Riemu sports club was significant for them personally.

“My group turned into a kind of family, and that’s where we learned to study, participated in student events, and had countless lunches together,” Anni tells us. “Here I found friends, future colleagues, and especially my professional network.”

Both Anni Havas and Veera Sääski are employed by a startup company called Cuckoo. Cuckoo is an application that can be operated on both web browsers and mobile devices. It can be used to improve workday wellbeing. The app includes fun workouts designed by a physiotherapist, as well as soothing exercises and tips and microwebinars designed by wellbeing experts. “The idea is to encourage people to have a more active day at work: having short breaks and especially to change their body positioning, several times during the day,” say Havas and Sääski. “The app also encourages people to walk to work and back, using stairs instead of lifts, and make time to get some fresh air.”

Anni ended up at Cuckoo through on-the-job-training. “I considered very carefully whether I dared to join a small enterprise or whether I should get my job training in a larger organisation,” says Anni. “Luckily, my study friends encouraged me to choose the small enterprise.” Following the training, she was offered employment by Cuckoo.

“I’d like to advise students to make choices boldly, with their heart,” Anni continues. “Students of Sport and Health Sciences don’t know the field’s enterprise scene well enough; there are lots of possibilities to be found.”

During her last years of study, Veera worked in both the Finnish Basketball Association and Tapiolan Honka, Finland’s second largest basketball club. “In social media, I followed Anni’s career at Cuckoo,” Veera recalls. She found Cuckoo interesting, and so she is happy to be working there. It was at Cuckoo that Anni and Veera became very close friends.

Their time at JYU also made them close. Anni and Veera tell us that, sometimes at work, they suddenly discover they are thinking in exactly the same way.

“Being alumni is a bit like hailing from the same place. It’s a very strong bond between us,” says Anni.

Information retrieval skills learned at the University have been put to good use by Anni and Veera. “Critical thinking is also essential,” Veera adds. “You must know both your customers and the products you represent well. Our interest has focused on the promotion of physical exercise, but it also involves marketing. But by utilising the minor subject options available at the University, you can complement your own skills.”

These past two years have been challenging in regard to work wellbeing, as both remote and hybrid work formats become more popular. In remote work, employees tend to get fewer natural breaks and less exercise. Veera and Anni emphasise that leisure physical exercise is not enough to compensate for sitting still throughout the workday. Accordingly, light exercise during work, short breaks and changing the work posture occasionally provide important health benefits.

Anni and Veera point out that microactions are important and it’s very beneficial to increase one’s physical exercise little by little. Students, in particular, should go out in the daytime and leave their computers for a while, if possible.

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