We all know that eating lunch at your desk isn’t good for you, but we all do it anyway. Despite the increasing number of workplace wellness programs out there, most of us can’t resist staying at our desks to get a few extra emails out at lunch.
However, staying at your desk all day can actually decrease your productivity and increase stress levels.
Furthermore, sitting for long periods of time can cause a whole host of health issues including back pain, leg disorders and increased risk of heart disease. Worse, when we’re working in front of a computer we also cause damage to our eyes and wrists.
Basically, the human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. Getting up every once in awhile is important for both mental and physical health.
Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to increased risk of premature death, particularly from cardiovascular disease. It is also associated with increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cancer. Stepping away from our desks and moving around helps prevent the onset of musculoskeletal disorders (from prolonged poor posture) and potentially deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can be caused by long periods of sitting.
We live in a modern world that is bombarded with paranoid messages about how dangerous the sun is, however, the benefits from the sun can bring about radiant health and improve your mood. In moderation, the sun can heal all kinds of illnesses. Sun rays stimulate the body to produce Vitamin D and encourage the production of serotonin (a hormone that plays an important part in the regulation of mood) and makes you less cranky. Something, I’m sure, your colleagues will appreciate.
The sun also has other benefits such as bone health, supports the immune system, protects against dementia and brain aging etc.
Eating whilst continuing to check emails, etc. can lead to ‘mindless eating’, which can cause people to overeat and/or eat the wrong foods, therefore, gaining weight. Avoid buying your lunch everyday. The food we make at home is always going to be healthier than the meals available from the corner shop or local café. It only takes a couple of minutes to prepare a healthy lunch at home.
Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress – so taking a break in the middle of the day is a great way to deal with looming deadlines and difficult co-workers. Again when we exercise, our brains produce more serotonin, this super chemical that helps to relieve depression and reduce stress. A much better solution than having a melt down in the office toilet cubicle.
Sometimes a situation crops up early in the workday that needs a great deal of brain power to solve. When this happens, the best solution is to clear your head and return to work refreshed. When you’re really in the groove of a task or project, the ideas are flowing and you feel great, however, it doesn’t last forever.
Getting some exercise at lunch increases our blood flow and our oxygen levels are increased, the brain creates new synapses which improves our cognitive performance. This in turn helps us solve tricky problems at work.
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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