The Importance of Breaks at Work

Posted on October 20, 2015

Breaks at WorkYou are a dedicated employee and you enjoy your job. So, you sometimes skip lunch break and breaks at work because you want to do a great job. Well, guess what! You can do an even better job if you know the secret of and the importance of taking breaks at work.

How Work Breaks Help Your Productivity

According to a study headed by John Trougakos, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Toronto, when employees take lunch breaks at work, they become less fatigued and have more energy to offer their employers. They also increase their ability to focus and problem solve.

Trougakos’ study also found that taking time off during breaks and interacting with your coworkers made for a more positive work environment for everyone. A more positive work environment equates with less stress for you. Less stress leads to higher productivity and problem-solving abilities for everyone.

Another study conducted by C. Thøgersen-Ntoumani, et. al. at the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology at Curtin University in Australia asked participants take 30-minute walks during their lunch break three times each week for 10 weeks. Participants had a smartphone app to record how they were feeling before and after the walks. What they found was that the workers’ stress levels were lower and that they had increased enthusiasm for their jobs after these outdoor walks.

Getting out of the office rather than eating while working improves your diet also. Not only does the exercise burn calories, but it also keeps you from overeating. If you eat right before your walk, you give your body time for the food to make its way to your stomach, giving you that full feeling that signals you have eaten enough.

Exercise and Sunshine Impact Many Areas of Your Life

Exercise is particularly important for office workers. According to David DiSalvo, writing for Forbes, your risk of dying when you sit for hours on end each day is much greater than if you get up and exercise during the day. According to DiSalvo, the following physical changes occur when you sit too much:

  • You burn fewer calories, and the food you eat turns to fat.
  • The electrical activity decreases in your leg muscles, slowing your metabolic rate.
  • Your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, raising the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Being able to get out in the sunshine is another great benefit that shows the importance of taking breaks during the work day. Sunlight increases your body’s production of serotonin, which has major benefits in all areas of your life, not just while you are at work.

  • Increased serotonin improves the quality of your sleep.
  • Higher serotonin levels improve brain function.

Among other functions, serotonin helps regulate your body temperature, assists with maintaining the blood’s pH balance to keep your body from being too acidic, and helps control your appetite.

A study by neuroscientist professor Russell Foster at Oxford University showed that a lack of exposure to natural lighting such as sunlight can cause early signs of dementia, such as poor mental performance and poor memory. The Oxford study also showed that increased exposure to sunlight improves mood and productivity at work.

The standard strength of light in most workplaces, according to Russell, is 300 lux, whereas we need about 1000 lux for full alertness. While sitting next to a window when it is sunny out can help, nothing beats getting out in the sunshine.

When employers care about their workers like The Workplace Depot does, they will encourage you to take lunch breaks and other breaks at work.  

Posted in News, Health and Safety, Workplace Commentary