How skipping breaks at work can lead to bad posture, an unhealthy diet and sleepless nights.
When was the last time you took your full lunch hour at work?
It seems we are a nation of desk-hunching, on-the-go eaters. Few of us take an hour-long break, with many grabbing no more than ten minutes.Skipping your lunch break could be detrimental to your health as follows:
Without getting up from your desk for a lunch break, and moving about, we sit in the same position for long periods – which is bad for posture.
Julie Barber, consultant at Six Physio, says: “Our bodies are designed to move but many of us are employed in sedentary occupations.
“Research suggests active breaks with postural changes may be effective in reducing pain and discomfort as well as preventing our backs and muscles from tightening up in the first place.
“Try setting an alert on your phone to prompt you to get up.”
FIX IT: Motion is lotion for the joints and just small breaks in the day can improve how your body and brain feel, come clocking-off time.
Get up and do a circle of the office every hour and go for a walk on your lunch break.
Having trouble nodding off at night? It could be down to you not taking a break at work.
Dr Katharina Lederle, of sleep solutions firm Somnia, says: “The body clock is a group of brain cells responsible for telling the body whether it is day or night, and how it should respond.
“We have receptors in our eyes and need light exposure. If we don’t get enough natural light, our body clock doesn’t know what to tell the body, which can lead to sleep problems and changes in mood and brain power.”
FIX IT: Get outside on a break and avoid caffeine after 3pm.
Taking a proper break will help avoid the afternoon slump and, in turn, curb your caffeine craving, so you can get a better night’s sleep.
DOCTOR Nicola Williams, a GP in Castleford, West Yorks, says: “Although you may feel that you are being more committed and working harder by skipping your break, it is bad for the health of your bones.
“Going out into the sunshine for even just a little while can provide you with important vitamin D, which helps us to absorb all-important calcium and phosphate from our diet.
FIX IT: Get outside on your lunch break, even if only for ten to 15 minutes. Sitting next to a window will not suffice, as our bodies produce vitamin D only when in direct contact with sunlight.
An active break helps our bodies work as they should. Jenny Francis, The Sun’s Fitness Editor, says:
“Not taking a break can wreak havoc with your fitness and waistline. Muscles become inactive – especially in the legs, glutes (buttocks) and back – so even if you go to the gym or for a run after work, a lot of muscles won’t perform. Not moving also slows metabolism.”
FIX IT: Moving about gets the heart rate up, burns calories and wakes up muscles. Even just standing and doing simple exercises helps.
Try calf raises – lift toes, hold for two seconds then lower heels back down. Also do the twist – with arms out in line with your shoulders, turn the body as far as you can in one direction, hold for a second, then do the same the other way. Do each 20 times.
TAKING time out during a busy day at work is essential for our wellbeing and, in turn, makes us more productive.
Life coach Louise Cartwright says: “Feeling pressured to skip lunch to finish work promotes a continual state of stress in the body.
“Combine this with unnatural amounts of time sitting down, artificial lighting and excessive screen time, employees become trapped in a situation that is having a profound, negative impact on their wellbeing. We are more productive when we take regular breaks. It increases our motivation.”
FIX IT: Instead of using your break to scroll through social media, have a real conversation and interact with others. And stop feeling guilty for taking time out, you are entitled to it.
HARLEY Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert says: “Skipping meals is not advised. Establishing a regular eating pattern has been shown to improve glycemic control, reduce the likelihood of weight gain and curb hunger.
“Foods with fibre and protein ensure you keep a steady blood sugar balance. Taking time to enjoy your lunch can really impact our digestion. If we are rushing, we tend to eat mindlessly.
This may result in digestive discomfort, bloating from trapped air when chewing food and opting for unhealthy foods.”
“Food can make the difference between an OK day and a wonderfully productive one.”
FIX IT: A lunch which includes proteins and vegetables is a good choice. Take time over eating to avoid sugar cravings in the afternoon.
By Claire Dunwell