By Pure Matters
A recent nationwide survey says that more than half of Americans rarely leave their desk for lunch. Problem is, unlike taking a lunchtime walking break, dining "al desko" is not a very good habit...in more ways than one.
It can make you sick.
A recent study found that about 41 percent of office workers say they rarely or never disinfect their desks. If you're among them, you're dining atop germs.
The lunch fix: If you must nibble in your cubicle, University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, recommends that you use disinfectant spray or wipes on your desktop before and after you eat.
It's bad for your back.
Did you know that sitting puts 40 percent more pressure on your spine than standing does? Add some poor posture, and your back can become weaker, causing your spine to age more quickly. The result: back pain and other problems.
The lunch fix: Get up and stretch, then walk to a local eatery. When you sit down at your desk after lunch, check your posture. Your desk chair should support your lower back, and your head should be aligned over your torso, not leaning forward.
It can contribute to weight gain.
Eating while working can cause you to eat too fast, lose track of how much you've eaten, and distract you from the flavors of your meal. This could lead you to crave junk food later. Getting a grip on this "amnesia eating" could help you reach your healthy-weight goals.
The lunch fix: Schedule lunch with a coworker (preferably one who is a healthy eater). You'll be more likely to leave your desk if you've made a promise to someone else. Plus, you'll benefit from the camaraderie it creates.
It can make you less productive.
In the middle of the day, you need time to "regroup" and recharge if you want to be more effective and creative in the afternoon. Worried what your boss will think? Consider this: In a recent survey, 53 percent of top executives said that they almost always break for lunch.
The lunch fix: Leave when your boss does -- then go get some exercise. Scheduling your workout during your lunch hour is a good way to clear your mind and give your body an energy boost. A post-workout shower can be a real refresher too.
It could kill you.
Okay, maybe this sounds overly dramatic, but consider this: Anyone who spends hours at a time in a seated position is at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) -- a condition in which a blood clot becomes lodged in a vein, usually deep within a calf or thigh muscle. DVT can be life-threatening if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.
The lunch fix: In addition to exercising during part of your lunch break, make sure you move more throughout the rest of the day. Alternate computer time with other tasks that get you up and about, such as making copies and delivering papers. Added benefit: It'll break up your day and make it seem to go faster.