“I’d love to exercise more, but I just don’t have the time.” To most of us, that’s an all-too-familiar line. Because, let’s face it, people are busy these days. Finding an extra hour amidst our daily commitments to dedicate exclusively to working out is tough. But what if, instead of finding an hour, we just took one that we already used for something else?

Enter the Lunchtime Workout. A simple way to incorporate exercise into our daily lives. It may seem unusual and inconvenient at first, the idea of working out at work. But with the right mindset it can serve as an amazing way to keep fit and healthy without sacrificing valuable leisure/family time. 

Here’s how to get more fitness from your lunch hour.

Plan

For both motivational and practical purposes, it’s always important to plan your lunchtime workout sessions in advance.

It helps a lot if you already know what you’ll be doing in advance. After all, you won’t have much time to spare. So the time you do have is best spent simply exercising instead of wondering what exercises you should be doing.

You also need to plan what you’ll be eating. Cold lunches always work best, as you won’t be using up time waiting for the microwave to ping. Salads or sandwiches prepped at home can be eaten post workout, so you don’t have to forgo eating in order to exercise either.

Hit the gym

Of course, the first port of call is the gym itself. If you happen to work within walking distance of a gym, consider signing up and dedicating part of your lunch break every day to a workout session.

The beauty of gyms is their convenience. They provide changing rooms, showers, and an excellent choice of exercise machines. So, if you’re close enough, it’s more than possible to get down, get changed, hit the treadmill for fifteen minutes, and be back at the office in time to eat.

It doesn’t have to be intense

Importantly, a lunchtime workout doesn’t have to consist of heart-pumping cardio exercise. Intense sessions are, after all, intense, and. . . sweaty. And not everyone has access to a shower and changing facilities at work, which makes the idea of vigorous exercise much less appealing.

But there are other, subtler, ways to squeeze your fitness regime into the lunchtime slot. . .

Think walking. The average walking speed is around 3mph. If you get an hour for your lunch, you could easily sneak in a 2 mile walk and still have plenty of time to spare afterwards.

There’s also cycling. If you already ride a bike to work, you could take it out for a quick lunchtime cycle around the block. Or, if neither of the above suit, you could simply do a dynamic stretch routine in the staff room.   

But if you can go intense, you should

Obviously, as stated above, this isn’t a requirement. But if you have the time, space, and facilities to get in an intense workout on your lunch break, it’s an option you should consider taking. 

This is because the most effective way of making up for time restrictions is by increasing the intensity. So if you only have 10 minutes to spare, turning up the difficulty level is a great way to get the most out of that time. 

According to Phil Tyne of the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Centre, “Research has shown that even just 15 minutes of exercise can net you nearly the same effects as 60 minutes of working out, if you increase the intensity.”

So for short, quick bursts (ie a lunch break), a high intensity session will give you the most fitness bang for your buck. See here for some amazing quick workout ideas.

Set yourself up for the rest of the day

It’s easy to assume that exercising at lunchtime might leave you feeling tired and drained for the rest of the day. In reality, it’s the opposite way around. Exercise gets the blood flowing to your muscles, increases your oxygen levels, and leaves you feeling more alert and awake.

So a midday workout could in fact be the perfect antidote to the post-lunch slump that many of us experience in our working days. What’s really great about this is that it gives an extra dimension to the idea of working out at lunchtime. There’s the added motivation of being more productive and energised for the rest of the workday!  

Have a happy and healthy work life

The importance of regular exercise can never be understated. And it’s even more important for those of us who work full-time jobs, especially desk jobs.

Exercise can improve our mood, lower our risk of disease, and promote better sleep. But often the hardest thing is simply finding the time to do it. Establishing a lunchtime workout routine is a really excellent way of fitting exercise into an otherwise busy work/life schedule.  

And don’t forget to stretch before and after exercising so you don’t get cramp at the desk!