Cancer Council NSW and Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW encourage indoor workers to take time for a vitamin D Break.
April and May mean beautiful Autumn days before the chill of winter sets in. It’s important to keep in mind that while the temperature is dropping, UV levels remain between 3 (moderate) and 7 (high) across NSW – high enough to cause permanent damage to your skin.
However, without some exposure to the sun, your body can’t top up its store of vitamin D – vital for keeping our bones strong and healthy.
Cancer Council NSW and Arthritis & Osteoporosis NSW are urging indoor workers to make simple choices for a sun safe vitamin D break during April and May by taking the time to get 15 minutes of sun exposure on your hands and forearms in mid-morning or mid-afternoon**, on most days of the week to top up your vitamin D levels.
Remember that Australians have among the highest rates of skin cancer in the world so check UV levels in your local area every day using the SunSmart UV Alert or download the free SunSmart app for iPhone, iPad and Android and use sun protection when UV levels are 3 and above.
*Care must be taken by people with very fair skin and/or at high risk of skin cancer. Always check UV levels in your local area and when UV levels are 3 and above, use sun protection.
- 6 Easy tips for taking a Vitamin D break
- Vitamin D, healthy bones and sun protection
- Vitamin D and sunlight – getting the balance right in
- Are you at risk of low vitamin D?
Research shows that office workers typically get only around 11 minutes to concentrate between interruptions, and getting back on task can take up to 23 minutes. 2
Schedule time to focus every day – early is often best, when your mind is fresh. Politely make it clear that you can’t be interrupted for an hour or so, you could get twice as much done in the time.
Contrary to popular belief, research shows that multitasking actually makes you less productive. 3
Juggling multiple tasks might feel efficient but your brain simply isn’t wired to cope with this ‘switching’ way of working. Try to break this habit by focusing instead on one task at a time, see it through to completion and then move on. You should find yourself ticking off all your jobs faster.
BREAK IT UP – Research shows that we tend to work best in 90-minute intervals, rather than continuously working without a break. 4
Maximise your productivity by taking a short break after every hour and a half. Go for a walk (outside if you can!) to clear your head and you could find yourself working at your best all day.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
If your commitments at work mean you’re simply not able to free up some time for an outside lunch break, there are other ways to get outside in the sun.
Try walking to external meetings before jumping in a cab. Got a long call to make? How about making it from a bench in the sun? Ask colleagues to hold a walking meeting outdoors rather than grab a room. Mixing things up can make for a welcome change as well as being good for getting your vitamin D too.
CREATE SHORT CUTS
If you work on a computer all day, think of all the tasks you do time and time again and see if you can set them up to be more efficient. Saving even ten seconds on an action you do 20 times a day really adds up.
For example set up email groups for the people who you send to regularly, and set up email filters to sort what you receive. If you don’t know how, you can quickly find out by searching and asking a forum online.
PLAN FIRST UP
Time management studies show that every minute of planning can save at least ten minutes later on. 1
At the start of every day, before checking emails and jumping straight on to requests, plan and list what you need to get done by when, then move on to your most important task first.
4 Nathan Kleitman
Please note: Care must be taken by people with very fair skin and/or at high risk of skin cancer.
Always check UV levels in your local area at www.cancercouncil.com.au/sunsmart and use sun protection when UV levels are 3 and above.
We need vitamin D for healthy bones and muscles and to reduce the risk of osteoporosis – a condition causing brittle bones. Our body’s make vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun’s UV radiation. However exposure to UV radiation is also the major cause of skin cancer and, in Australia, we have among the highest rates of melanoma and other skin cancers in the world.
It’s very important therefore that while we spend some time in the sun for vitamin D, we don’t increase our risk of skin damage that can lead to melanoma and other skin cancers.
It isn’t easy to say exactly how much time any one person needs to spend in the sun for vitamin D. That’s because getting enough vitamin D without increasing your risk of skin cancer depends on a few different factors including, time of year, time of day and the colour of your skin.
In NSW, people with moderately fair skin (skin type 1, 2, 3) should get enough vitamin D by exposing about 15% of the body (hands and arms or lower legs) to sunlight on most days of the week for the following time periods.
October to March**
- 10 minutes in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
April, May, August and September**
- 15 minutes in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
June and July**
- Southern NSW (e.g. Sydney, Batemans Bay, Wagga Wagga): 30-40 minutes in the middle of the day.
- Northern and far western NSW (e.g. Cape Byron, Armidale, Cobar): 20-25 minutes in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
** Care must be taken by people with very fair skin and/or at high risk of skin cancer.
When UV levels are 3 and above the sun’s rays are strong enough to damage your skin and sun protection should be used.
You can’t see or feel when UV levels are high and UV can be high enough to damage your skin on cold, and cloudy days. Check UV levels for your local area everyday – at cancercouncil.com.au/sunsmartuvalert or download the free SunSmart app. Use sun protection when UV levels are 3 and above.
Despite our sunny climate, some people have been identified as being at increased risk of having low vitamin D.
- The elderly, particularly those who don’t go outside very often.
- Babies of mothers who have low levels of vitamin D. If you are concerned about your baby’s vitamin D levels do not deliberately expose your baby to sunlight. Talk to your general practitioner (GP) or baby health centre.
- People with naturally dark skin.
- People who cover most of their body and heads with clothing and veils for cultural or religious reasons (less skin is exposed to UV radiation).
- People with prolonged illnesses who stay indoors.
- People who work indoors and spend little time outside.
If you are in an identified risk group, or if you are concerned about vitamin D talk to your GP who can advise you about sun exposure, diet and vitamin D supplements.