Leaving the office and walking can make lunch feel longer

The secret to making lunch break feel longer: Leaving the office and walking along a street can change the perception of time away from work, study suggests

  •  Being in a busy street makes it feel you have taken a longer lunch, a study found
  • Researchers showed videos of busy streets and of a sleepy office to 40 people 
  •  Dr Maxine Sherman said: ‘when you look back at all those things…it feels longer.’
  • MRI scans of subjects found that brain activity could predict perception of time

To make a lunch break feel like it lasts that little bit longer, don’t have a sandwich at your desk, go for a walk outside.

Being in a busy street, a study suggests, makes it feel like you have been at lunch longer.

But in contrast, staying in a quiet office can make your lunchtime feel shorter.

People in the study said when they looked at the street scenes, they felt they had spent more time watching the videos but looking at a boring office, they felt they had less time

The findings come after researchers showed videos of bustling streets and of a sleepy office to 40 people.

When they looked at the street scenes, they typically felt they had spent more time watching the videos. But looking at a boring office, they felt they had less time.

Experts believe that we calculate time internally by counting the number of things happening to us. In a busy environment, we feel we have been there longer.

Dr Maxine Sherman, of Sussex University, who led the study, said: ‘Going out for a walk during your lunch break exposes you to people walking past, overheard conversations, shop signs, traffic and your own thoughts about the day.

To make a lunch break feel like it lasts that little bit longer, don’t have a sandwich at your desk, go for a walk outside

‘It makes sense that when you look back at all those things that happened during that lunch break, it feels like it was longer.’

MRI scans of people in the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, found that brain activity could predict perception of time.

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