Why Taking a Lunch Break Will Make You Healthier

eating, lunch

Man taking a lunch break | iStock.com

You sit at your desk and shove half a sandwich and an overpriced salad in your mouth between catching up on emails and sitting in a Google Chat with colleagues, but it doesn’t matter because you’re being so productive, right? Wrong. It’s time to rethink your lunchtime routine.

Fewer than 20% of American workers regularly step away for a midday meal, and 39% usually eat at their desks, according to The Washington Post. It may seem like you’re being more productive, but the truth is this mentality and physically staying at your desk is doing more harm than good.

Michael Kerr, a career and workplace expert, agrees that despite the notion that being at your desk during lunch makes you appear more productive, it actually could have a negative affect on your work. “Staying at your desk is a big no-no in my book. There are more and more reports on the dangers of sitting too long, so even just getting up to walk to another room to eat is important, or better still, getting outside for some fresh air and a quick walk can do wonders for the body and spirit,” Kerr told Forbes.

man sleeping on office desk

This is what can happen if you don’t allow yourself a break | iStock.com

Beyond the mental health benefits of stepping away from your desk, a nutritious midday meal helps fuel your body and allows you to think more clearly throughout the remainder of the day. Eating therefore is only half the battle. According to Kimberly Elsbach a professor of management at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis, it is also important to step away from your desk to promote creative thinking.

“Taking a break from cognitively taxing work improves creative thinking, and everybody’s job has a creative component, such as problem-solving, managing teams or finding creative solutions,” Elsbach told The Washington Post.

Lets face it: This is something we can all relate to because often when 3 p.m. rolls around, and you are still sitting in the same place, your thoughts are far from brilliant and you find yourself in a bind. In fact, according to a recommendation written by health experts and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine you should aim to stand at least two hours a day during work.

call for job reference

Use a phone call as a reason to get up | iStock.com

Based on this, even going on a midday stroll could potentially not be enough, especially if you have a job where you find yourself sitting most of the day. But we know what you are thinking, two hours of walking or standing is impossible to incorporate into your day, try to take it one step at a time (no pun intended). Set a calendar reminder or your alarm for every two and a half hours. When it goes off, take a break from your desk and walk for 10 minutes.

Another option is to take your afternoon meeting outside. If you and a colleague has to discuss an upcoming project, and no notes or technology needs to be utilized, ask them to walk and talk, you may even find that the conversation flows easier and honestly who doesn’t want an excuse to step away from their desk?

While it may not seem like much, even small walks throughout the day will be beneficial to not only your health, but also your work.