One of our recent studies found that a surprising three-quarters of Brits (75%) spend most of the daylight hours inside, whilst a third (32%) of the nation confessed to spending less than one hour outside on a typical weekday.
The daily commute and a busy job were frequently mentioned factors that prevented people from getting outside as often as they would like. Over half of employed Brits spend less than ten minutes outside on their lunch break, with just a mere 3% taking advantage of the full hour available to them. Perhaps this is because a fifth have too much work and more than one in ten worry about being away from their desk!
Following these surprising findings, we interviewed some UK-based workers who spend the majority of their working lives indoors, to get more insight into their lunchtime habits and the effect it has on their overall health and wellbeing.
Ellen – Warehouse Worker
Lynsey – CEO
Dane – Factory Supervisor
Esin – Office Worker
1. How much time do you spend outside on a typical day?
Ellen – “I spend about 45 minutes a day in total outside, this includes walking the dogs and pottering around in the garden, before and after work. Unfortunately, I don’t get to spend any time outside while I’m at work at the warehouse.”
Lynsey – “During the week when I’m working I only get to spend about one hour a day outside, when I take the dogs for a walk. Although at the weekends this is more like four to five hours.”
Dane – “I probably only spend around an hour or two on an average working day, although this is more at the weekend.”
Esin – “On weekdays, I get to be outside around 3 hours which is quite good, although at the weekend this is upwards of 6 hours.”
2. Are you happy with that amount of time or would you rather have more/less time outside?
Ellen – “Generally, I’m happy with that, although on a sunny day, it would be nice to spend more time outside.”
Lynsey – “I’d always like to be outside more, whatever the weather and even though my job is not always sitting at my desk, it’s difficult to find the time to enjoy the outdoors more.”
Dane – “Generally I’m happy with this, but I often think it would be nice to be able to spend a bit more time outside, perhaps by walking or cycling to work.”
Esin – “I love being outdoors, so I’d definitely like more time outside!!! Working in an office does have its downfalls, but at least my office has lots of natural light, although it’s not the same as being outside.”
3. What, if anything, is stopping you from spending more time outside?
Ellen – “My job is an ‘indoor’ job, so that stops me from being outside for most of the day. I would take my lunch outside on a sunny day, but there is no outdoor seating area. At home, I have things to do when I get in, but generally it’s the weather that stops me spending more time outside in the evenings. If it really is warm, the dogs might get a longer walk and we might have dinner in the garden.”
Lynsey – “In one word ‘work’ stops me spending more time outside. Between driving to work, travelling to meetings or working in the office, getting more time outside is really hard to achieve. I know spending time outdoors is good for all kinds of things, and it certainly helps with stress levels too.”
Dane – “I live quite far from work, which means I have to drive and then at work I’m inside the factory all day. I also don’t have a lot of time after work when I get home to spend outside as there is always housework or jobs that need to be done.”
Esin – “Usually it’s work that stops me spending more time outdoors. If I am at work I can’t go outside other than taking my lunch break. During the weekends I tend to be outside all day or as much as possible.”
4. Do you take your full lunch break? If not, why not?
Ellen – I usually do take my full lunch break which is 45 minutes as my job is fairly physical and I genuinely need to sit down! When we are exceptionally busy, I might only take 20 mins or so, to stand a better chance of getting all the orders out.”
Lynsey – “I never take my full lunch break, I work through my lunch every day so I can get my work done. This is due to not working full time, even though I know this is not ideal. I did use to go running in my lunch break, and I’d love to get back into that habit again, but that’s a work in progress!”
Dane – “I always take my lunch hour, but I stay inside and although it’s good to take a break, it would be better to be able to go outside.”
Esin – “I think it’s important to take a break from work and it’s great to get some fresh air. Just going for a walk or popping to the shops is good to recharge yourself and take advantage of being outside.”
As well as having a negative impact on your stress levels, not taking your full lunch break means you’re missing out on crucial fresh air and Vitamin D! Look after yourself by making more of your lunch break – even an extra 10 minutes a day could do wonders for your long-term wellbeing.
Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
Everybody is different and individual vitamin D levels can vary depending on the time of year, your job (i.e. how much daytime you spend indoors), your clothing and even your skin type. The recommended daily maintenance dosage is 400IU daily (or 10mcg) as outlined in the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance.
If you’re unsure about your levels of vitamin D, there’s a simple blood test you can take at home. Simply follow the instructions included in the blood test kit, and the level of vitamin D in your sample will be analysed by an independent EU lab.
For specific advice about your own vitamin D intake and whether you should be supplementing, we would advise you speak to your Healthcare Practitioner.