How important are lunch breaks for the working day?

How important are lunch breaks for the working day?

According to a recent poll the average lunch break is now down to 22 minutes per day, down a third from 6 years ago.

The poll done by ukactive and Sodexo on around 800 workers found one in 5 workers never leave their desks during their lunch.

The main reason being that workers found their workload got in the way despite wanting to be active and exercise during lunch.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that being constantly inactive can have drastic impacts on health.

New warnings indicate that being sat and inactive for 8 hours a day can kill more people than smoking does.

Employers should therefore take this matter seriously as long-term inactivity can have a major impact on employees’ health and in tern attendance and productivity.

Could you be more productive and get more done with a longer lunch break?

Increasing lunch breaks and encouraging workers to leave the office could have significant benefits to overall productivity, especially if workers can be active in this time.

There is good evidence to suggest that people who exercise feel more alert, confident and energetic whilst regular exercise also reduces the likelihood of developing a number of different health conditions.

The lack of exposure to sunlight, especially in the winter months, can also cause health issues. If a worker arrives at work and leaves work when its dark and spends breaks at their desk, they are severely limiting exposure to sunlight.

This may cause poor mental wellbeing as well as increasing the risk of developing conditions such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where a lack of sunlight can stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly which can affect the body’s internal clock (circadium rhythm), production of melatonin and the production of serotonin.  It can also increase the chances of being vitamin D deficient.

An increased lunch break, allowing workers to go out and walk during lunch breaks would not only increase activity but also increase exposure to sunlight. It may help reduce stress.

A study by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that people who walked just 3 times a week for 30 minutes on their lunch breaks found they were less tense, more enthusiastic and were more relaxed. They could also cope better with their workload than on days when they didn’t walk.


Increasing workloads, pressures and stress on workers are contributing to the trend of reducing lunch breaks during the working day.

This can have significant implications on overall employee wellbeing and health.

It is suggested employers implement longer lunch breaks and encourage employees to include an active lunch, such as walking, to help increase activity and boost employee health, in turn reducing the likelihood of absence and boosting productivity.