We should all walk during our lunch breaks, experts say

Caroline Allen
Contributor
It's easy to slip into a routine of eating our lunch at our desks. [Photo: Getty]

It’s easy for bad habits to form at work, particularly during the winter months.

After all, 1 in 2 London office workers will only see sunlight for a maximum of 30 minutes per day in the winter.

When it’s cold outside its easy for us to slip into a routine of eating lunch at or desks or staying in the warm.

But, experts are discouraging us from falling into this habit.

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Numerous studies have found that getting out and about at lunch time positively affects concentration and overall work enjoyment in the afternoon.

One recent study of 51 office workers found that every single person enjoyed their afternoons more if they’d gone for a walk outside at lunch time.

Walking at any pace lowers early death risk, so it’s quite easy to see the physical benefits of a quick stroll, but there are a number of mental health benefits too.

“It’s a great way to control stress. If you find your job stressful, removing yourself from that situation, even for a short time, can be hugely beneficial.” Psychotherapist Christine Elvin explains.

“It’s sometimes good not to listen to music or an audiobook and instead just listening to the sounds and watching what’s going on around you.

“And of course, there’s no harm in listening to something if that’s what calms you. There’s a lot of benefits to just getting away from your desk and your screen, even if it’s just for ten minutes.”

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Switching off from work and tuning into what’s around you might have more benefits than you think.

Getting lost around the roads near your office might lead you to uncover a cool cafe or bookshop, at the very least it’ll stop your brain from feeling foggy after a busy morning.

The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, this includes brisk walking or leisurely riding a bike.

If moderate intensity isn’t your thing and you’d prefer to power it out at the gym, you could choose to get your recommended dose of exercise by doing 75 minutes of vigorous activity instead.

The NHS counts vigorous activity as jogging, fast swimming or gymnastics.

It classes “very vigorous activity” as spinning, circuit training and sprinting up hills.

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Even with all this information, there’s still a lot of conflict over how much benefit walking really does have on your physical health.

In fact, the recommended step count of 10,000 steps originated from a Japanese advertising campaign in the 1960s.

With that sort of information popping up, you can see why people have lost their trust in walking statistics.

It’s hard to argue with the studies that say that getting away from our desks and out into the fresh air for a bit is a positive thing, though.

As we battle through the depths of the winter, we could all do with a little afternoon pick me up to get us through the day.

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