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5 Reasons to Start Working Out at Work

May 5, 2016 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You know you should exercise. What you might not know is that you need to this at work, or – even better — during work. Our best intentions can easily fall by the wayside when they meet the realities of a packed schedule, bad weather and a comfortable couch.

How about skipping that trip to the gym and exercising right at the office instead. Not only does working out at work save you time (and help you avoid the temptations of your living room), it’s also a great way to boost your professional performance, according to recent research out Leeds Metropolitan University and Bristol University.

Exercise is hugely beneficial, but only short term.

While lots of studies compare the average level of health, anxiety, creativity and productivity of people who exercise versus those that don’t, this study led by Dr. J.C. Coulson focused on measuring how increased levels of activity affected the same individual. If you moved more, how did that change how you felt and performed?

The research team found that exercise changes our attitude towards our work, our team, and even ourselves. It makes us more positive and more productive by improving our focus and ability to manage our time and tasks efficiently. It also makes people more cheerful and resilient in the face of stress.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Your Workstation Into a Workout Station

In short, exercise has remarkable benefits, but only in the short term. Working out caused an immediate spike in subjects’ mental and physical health, but the next day they were basically back to square one. If you want to get the productivity-boosting benefits of working out, in other words, you should leave as small a gap as possible between climbing off the treadmill or stationary bike and getting back to work. That’s reason one to consider working up a sweat while you’re actually at the office.

Exercise boosts teamwork.

The mood-boosting effects of exercise aren’t just on the individual level. Whole teams can feel the benefits of being more active during the workday, the study shows. On days when they exercised, subjects felt more tolerant and positive towards colleagues. Unsurprisingly, workplace relationships improved. “This implies that exercising at work has a key morale-building effect,” claim the researchers.

Adding a bit of exercise to the workday had a particularly positive effect on employees suffering from anxiety and depression, two conditions that are clearly hugely detrimental to professional performance. But even for those not struggling with any mental health issues, the impact of exercise on mood was profound. And happy employees, it turns out, are productive employees. “Emotional affect may predict job performance more than job satisfaction,” the researchers conclude.

You don’t have to train for a triathlon.

But I don’t want to go through the hassle of changing into my workout gear and getting all sweaty at work, you might object. Not to worry. You don’t need to prepare for a triathlon to get the benefits of working out at work. Even something as simple as going out for a short walk could be an effective performance booster. Danish researcher Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani has shown that a 30-minute lunchtime walk can improve enthusiasm and relaxation, and relieve nervousness.

Related: 4 Reasons to Work Out With Your Employees

You might not even need to leave your desk.

In fact, according to another study, you might not even have to leave your desk to experience the benefits of working out at work. The yearlong experiment introduced treadmill workstations at a financial services company, so that participants were able to choose between a standard desk-and-chair arrangement or working while walking at a modest speed of zero to two miles per hour.

The new arrangement took some getting used to — performance initially fell while employees adjusted to the new setup — but then amazing things started happening. Participants’ work performance improved by almost any measure. Both the quality and quantity of their output went up, their interactions with co-workers improved, even their self-rating of their work, as well as the ratings of their supervisors, increased significantly.

On-site exercise even helps those who work on their feet.

Is on-site exercise only for those with sedentary jobs who sit all day? Not at all, according to science. Even those like cashiers, hair stylists, and nurses who spend most of their time on their feet can benefit from adding a few targeted exercises into their work routines. The right combination of stretches and activities can help prevent sore feet, aching backs, and injuries caused by repetitive movements.

That’s why “the post office and companies like FedEx hire athletic trainers to develop exercise routines for employees, give them pointers on what to eat and pinpoint ergonomic risks. (For example, athletic trainers with degrees in biomechanics and kinesiology watch delivery people lift boxes to correct their form.),” reports the New York Times.

Related: 7 Reasons the CEO Should Get Outside to Exercise

What’s the bottom line of all this science? Working out while you’re actually at work, not only has huge benefits for productivity, collaboration, and mood, but is also dead simple to implement.

I Spent 2 Weeks Working Out at Lunch and Remembered How Life-Changing Exercise Can Be

JGI/Jamie Grill

Like many people, my commitment to fitness waxes and wanes. Some months (and years) I’m better than others, and I have the wild variation in pant sizes in my closet to prove it.

I know when I’m working out how much better it makes life, though. I love the feeling of a runner’s high—the anxiety-reducing calm that comes from physical exercise. And having a metabolism cranked to 10 is not something anyone could hate. I also especially cherish the feeling of being my most fit version of myself, everything just feels better—and let’s face it, when the zombie apocalypse comes, being able to outrun them will be key.

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But about eight months ago, life started to get in the way of my #fitnessgoals. A long-distance move, a new job, and a tricky living situation derailed everything. Or rather, I allowed it to derail everything.

I let go, bit-by-bit, the need to go for a run, or a row, or even a yoga class.

Every night for months, I set my alarm to 5 a.m., convinced that tomorrow would be the day I would get up and go back to the gym. And every morning for months, I turned over, hit my alarm(s), and went back to sleep.

I packed a gym bag when I got up, planning, of course, to go after work—only to bring it right back into the house that night. Something needed to change.

Then the other day my editor asked if I’d be willing to try doing a couple weeks of lunchtime workouts. (If you read us regularly, you know we’ve tried a variety of workouts, portion control hacks, and even diet experiments for stories.) So, I said sure! I figured, glumly, that it couldn’t really make that much of a difference.

I Was Wrong

So. Wrong. After just two weeks, I not only broke out of my anti-gym rut, I remembered why I liked going in the first place. And there are a lot of ancillary benefits besides just burning calories. Here’s a breakdown of the daily advantages as I see them, from morning to night.

Better Sleep
The first benefit I noticed as soon as I woke up: I slept better. By freeing myself of the idea that I needed to wake up super-early, I set a reasonable alarm time. And because I stopped hitting snooze over and over again I actually (paradoxically) ended up getting up earlier than normal. Which allowed me time to make myself that all-important healthy breakfast.

A Better Breakfast
Having a good, cooked breakfast made my mornings (usually spent hungrily thinking about lunch) more productive.

An Empty Gym
There’s freakin’ no one at the gym in the middle of the day! No one to see me huff and puff and generally be out of shape. And my gym offers classes at noon, so suddenly doing something out of my comfort zone—like Zumba—became an option. (Though I haven’t tried it yet. Still working up the courage.)

An Actual Lunch Break
Like many people, I tend to eat lunch at my desk while continuing to work. Well, we’ve recently learned that you really should take a lunch break, so spending that time at the gym seemed like a reasonable idea—and it was!

Sure, I was still eating lunch at my desk, but, not wanting to take too much time away from the office, I was bringing my own food, instead of grabbing a sandwich at a restaurant. I also came back to work with more energy than a coffee could possibly have given me, and the day seemed shorter, somehow. You know that clarity that you get after a workout and a shower? Imagine that in the middle of the day! It’s pretty great.

No Slump
That dreaded mid-afternoon slump (you know what I’m talking about) never came. Usually, there are at least 5 minutes in the afternoon where it seems like I’m walking through a fog, and I could just fall asleep sitting up, but not anymore.

A Guilt-Free Afternoon
Typically, I’d find the end of the workday a drag—I’d be dreading my inevitable decision to go ahead and skip the gym, since by skipping the gym, that would leave me fresh for the morning. Well, we all know how that goes. So… instead of hemming and hawing and feeling bad about myself, I would go to Trader Joe’s, stock up on healthy staples, and make myself dinner—something that I found easy to do for the entire two weeks of the experiment.

A Restful Evening
Normally around 9 p.m., the panic would start—I’d be furiously calculating how I many hours of sleep I’d get if my alarm was set early enough to go work out. But since I wasn’t trying to game my sleepy tomorrow-self into waking up early, I didn’t panic. Instead, acknowledging that my body was tired, I would climb into bed and read until I fell asleep. And, being as I had actually exercised, my sleep was better.

Of course there are larger benefits than just these day-to-day examples. The first became apparent on Saturday, which I had planned to take off from the gym, but I felt like going—so I went. Same on Sunday. It turned out that once I got back into the gym, I felt less embarrassed, and so even though yes, I saw people I knew over the weekend workouts, I didn’t mind so much. No more cringing drive-bys, trying to pretend like the gym wasn’t there.

Yes, I’m super-lucky: My boss doesn’t mind if I slip out for a quick gym visit. But in many ways, the culture of this office is like a lot of others—people eat at their desks during lunch. There certainly aren’t crowds heading off to the gym, or out for a run.

In fact, I didn’t feel like it was really possible for me to take lunches to exercise and still get all my work done, until I started doing it. So yes, maybe I end up staying a little later some days to get everything done, but I’m also finding that I can work smarter than I did before—and all of the benefits make this whole endeavor more than worth it. In fact, even though the experiment is over, I’m going to keep doing my lunchtime gym visits; it adds a pleasant shape to my days.

So even if you aren’t sure whether you can do it too, it’s certainly worth giving it a shot. But it’s even more worth considering how something super-simple—like changing the time of day you work out—can shake up your routine in a really positive way.

Finding the motivation to stay active each day can be tough — especially in the mental and physical aftermath of answering hundreds of work emails and sitting at a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m every day. As tempting as it is to let fatigue get the best of you during the workday, getting a healthy dose of exercise in during the work week is actually a lot easier than you think.

Staying active at work doesn’t always require lugging around a gym bag with intentions of getting a quick workout in during your lunch break. Sometimes it means rethinking small lifestyle choices that gradually help you get at least 30 to 45 minutes a day of light physical activity right from the office — or even from your desk! These actions not only help strengthen your body, but they’ll also help strengthen your mind and aid in helping you focus on projects and responsibilities as the workday progresses — especially if you find yourself plagued by mid-morning brain fogs or post-lunch slumps.

How to get physical at work

If you’re one for a more discreet method of getting in some light exercise without leaving your desk, there are quite a few covert deskersise options that you can opt for. From under the table leg lifts to intermittent muscle flexing, below are some easy deskercise activities for you to try.

Under the radar deskercise.

1. Engaging your abdominals.

Engaging or flexing your abdominal muscles throughout the day may not help you achieve a rock solid six pack, but it can help supplement the development of one if that’s what you’re working towards in your usual fitness routine. In this case, intermittently engaging your core and releasing it for 10-15 reps while sitting at your desk or walking around the office can aid in strengthening your core and correcting your posture.

2. Flexing your glutes.

Similar to the concept of flexing your core muscles throughout the day, flexing and relaxing your glutes intermittently throughout the day helps to strengthen that area of your body in the same way flexing your abdominals can help strengthen your core. This particular exercise is best recommended for when you’re seated due to how awkward flexing your glutes can look while standing. When you feel like the hours you’ve spent seated at your desk are starting to take a toll on you, try this exercise for a few sets of 10-15 reps.

3. Seated leg raises.

Achieving toned legs while sitting down? Yes please! Seated leg raises are a great way to get your calves looking and feeling good while you prepare yourself for your next meeting. With your back firmly pressed against the back of your chair, place your forearms on your desk parallel to your shoulders. If the space under your desk is too small for you to fully extend your legs out in front of you, you can move your chair back to give yourself more space and place your forearms firmly on your armrests instead. Lift your feet from the ground and extend your calves out in front of you with toes pointed towards the ceiling. Aim for two sets of 15 reps. For an added challenge, loop your feet through the straps of your gym bag or purse and use for them for some added weight and resistance.

4. Swivel chair oblique exercise.

Swivel chairs have always been nostalgic of childhood fun. Seriously, who can resist the urge to spin at least a couple of times while sitting in one? As it turns out, these chairs are useful for a plethora of different activities other than spinning in childhood nostalgia. You can actually use your swivel chair to target your obliques. Sitting up straight in your chair, lift your feet a few inches off the ground. Place the tips of your fingers on the edge of your desk to stabilize yourself. Next, with core muscles engaged, use your torso to control the chair to swivel from side to side. Make sure you don’t use your fingers to aid in moving the chair. Try to keep this going for two sets of 10 reps.

5. The seated cat/cow.

Sitting at a desk all day can definitely do some damage to your back muscles, causing tension mainly in the shoulders and the lower back. The next time you feel these muscles start to ache try doing the seated cat/cow exercise. Keeping your core engaged, sit up straight in your chair. Roll your shoulders back and bring your torso forward, creating a visible arch in your back, and hold for five seconds. Then do the inverse, rolling your shoulders forward as you hunch forward to curve your back. Hold five more seconds. Aim for two sets of 10-15 reps.

6. The chest opener.

Sometimes a few deep breaths and a good stretch are all you need to finish out the work day strong. The chest opener move is meant to help release some of that built up tension in your chest, upper back, and shoulder muscles from hunching over your keyboard all day. To achieve this move, sit up straight and bring your arms behind your back pressing your palms together between your shoulder blades with fingers pointed towards the ceiling. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds and remember to breathe deeply during the process.

Get on your feet.

Not all attempts to stay active have to involve an intense workout. Low impact activities like walking or climbing stairs can be just as helpful in achieving health and wellness — considering how easy access these activities are for many people. If you’re someone who wants to work up a bit more of a sweat and burn a few more calories during your workday, then the next few exercise ideas just might be what you need. Below are a few easy ways to get your heart racing and your blood pumping in between meetings.

1. Take advantage of the stairs.

If you work in an office that has a surplus of stairs, use them to your advantage! Climbing stairs not only allows you to get in a little cardio throughout the day, but it can also help tone your legs and build endurance if you make a habit of it — not to mention, but it’ll also save you from a lot of awkward elevator small talk. If you want a bit more of a challenge when climbing the stairs you can try lunging up the stairs two at a time at a safe pace. Assuming deep lunge positions while climbing the stairs can stretch out your hamstrings and strengthen your thighs and glutes.

2. Walk around the office.

Has it ever crossed your mind that the setup of the cubicles in your office kind of resemble a maze? This might be the ideal setting for you to get a power walk going and get your blood flowing when you’ve been seated and staring at a screen for hours on end. Walking is essential to our health and wellness although it doesn’t always receive the credit it deserves.

According to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes a week of brisk walking can significantly reduce risk of conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. For some people, two hours can be added to their life expectancy for every hour of brisk walking they do! That’s two more hours to spend taking advantage of those vacation days you’ve been saving up. Plus, you don’t have to walk at a continuous pace for it to count. The more you’re able to get up and walk around the office to complete tasks, the more it adds up! So, if you can fight the urge to send out that email blast to your co-workers and instead take a stroll or power walk over to their desk to tell them in person — not only will you strengthen your legs, hasten your metabolism, and add to your life expectancy, but you’ll also be building better personal and professional relationships in the process. It’s a win-win.

3. Incline push-ups.

Need something that’ll get you a little more pumped to push out the rest of those mid-afternoon emails? Try doing a few incline pushups at your desk. Simply push your chair out of the way, place your hands on the edge of your desk parallel to your shoulders and assume a pushup stance with legs together or feet crossed behind you. Lower your body so that your chest is hovering just above the edge of your desk — try to make sure your elbows are at a 45-degree angle. Push-up and repeat for two sets of 10-15 reps.

4. Calf raises

Looking to sculpt some killer calf muscles? Look no further. Start by standing behind your chair and gripping the top of it for support. Lift your heels off of the ground and place your weight on the balls of your feet. Hold for five seconds, and then lower your heels back onto the floor. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps, and you’re on your way toned legs.

5. Chair squats/ traditional squats

Now that you’re motivated to take some well-deserved breaks away from your desk during the workday, chair squats are the little wellness hack that you can do each time you return to your seat. Whenever you return to your desk, instead of plopping back down into your seat, try hovering over it in a squatted stance and hold for 10-15 seconds before seating yourself again. If you find yourself walking back and forth between your desk throughout the day, these simple actions can accumulate — if you can make a habit of it. If you’re looking to work up more of a sweat, you can opt to remove the chair from the equation altogether and do two sets of 15 reps of traditional squats at your desk during a much-needed break.

FAQs

How can I exercise at work?

Getting in your recommended amount of daily physical activity at work can vary from taking the stairs more often to dedicating your lunch break to breaking a sweat at the gym — it really depends on what kind of results you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something less intense and more gradual, try walking to work a few days a week or park a little farther away from the building to get a few extra steps in each day. For something a little more intentional, you can choose to do something active during your lunch break like a quick workout in an empty conference room. Looking for workout buddies to help you stay motivated? Suggest a company-wide wellness challenge or recruit a group of friendly, like-minded co-workers to do a lunchtime fitness class a few times a week! The opportunities are limitless.

Is it better to workout before or after work?

The answer to whether or not you should work out before or after work really depends on your preference. If you’re an early bird who feels energized by physical activity in the morning, then a brief workout routine before work might do the trick. Early morning exercise helps blood flow to the brain, can enhance your mood and helps motivate you to make other healthful choices throughout the day. Also, early morning workouts help you maintain your focus.

If you’re not much of a morning person, working out after work might be best for you. Do keep in mind, however, that many people find it hard to motivate themselves to workout after work because of the accumulated fatigue from the work day. On the bright side, working out post-clock out may improve digestion and enhance your quality of sleep at the end of the day. The decision to workout before or after work really just depends on your preference. Working out before work can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the day while working out after work can help you get the much-needed rest that you’ll need to awaken energized and ready to take on work the next day.

How can I strengthen my core at work?

Putting in the effort to strengthen your core at work can be as simple as intermittently flexing and releasing your core muscles throughout the day while sitting at your desk or walking through the office. Exercises like the wall sit or the swivel chair oblique exercise are two examples of activities that actively engage core muscles and are quite easy to do over the course of a coffee or lunch break. Do be aware, however, that simple office core workouts work in addition to regular strength training and conditioning outside of your 9 to 5.

How can I be more active at my desk job?

Being more active at your desk job can be as simple as getting away from your desk every few hours. If you’re looking for a solution that seems a little more solid than the occasional desk workout or if you don’t want to go it alone, you can get others involved, too! Everyone has fitness goals they’re trying to meet, and getting co-workers or the company as a whole involved can develop a routine that holds you and others accountable for staying active and productive while at work.

Last Thoughts

When working a desk job, it can be easy to forget that you aren’t getting in enough physical activity during the day. We’re so focused on being as productive as possible in our work responsibilities that we tend to forget that taking care of ourselves is productive, too. Think of it as 9-to-5 tunnel vision. It is important to keep in mind, however, that our desire for productivity should never interfere with our health and wellness. The health and wellness of its employees is what keeps companies running. Keep that in mind the next time you opt to take a walk during your lunch break, and hopefully, it puts a little more pep in your step.

How to Sneak in a Lunchtime Workout Without Showering

The lunchtime workout is a great way to get in your daily exercise in. You don’t compromise any precious sleeping hours, and still have time for happy hour after work. But how do you sneak in a lunchtime workout without showering?

No one wants to be the sweaty, smelly person who shows up to afternoon meetings. But it’s also not feasible to spend 45 minutes showering and getting ready. Before you say “Eww!” know that it’s possible to skip the shower, even for heavy sweaters. With a little prep and a few key tools in your arsenal, you can manage the gym-to-work transition seamlessly with little stress or smell.

Plan ahead. Lunchtime workouts need to be quick and efficient. You can’t stroll into the gym at 12:30 and decide what you’re going to do. Go into your workout with a plan. HIIT workouts are great options for quick, efficient workouts that get your heart rate up quickly. Other studios offer shorter 45 minute classes designed to fit into your lunch break. Make sure it’s close to work and you can get there quickly.

Cool off. There’s nothing worse than rushing through a shower after a quick workout only to feel like you’re still sweating afterwards. Take a minute and towel off with your workout towel before hopping in — a microfiber towel is great for absorbing sweat.

Use baby wipes. Our perspiration doesn’t smell, it’s the bacteria that causes the dreaded B.O. Baby wipes are a great way to fake a shower after a workout. Use one for your face and another for your body for days when you need to skip the shower.

Skip washing your hair. There’s nothing worse than heading back to the office with sweaty hair. Use dry shampoo or throw it up in a bun to avoid having to wash it.

Change of clothes. If you’re heading back to the office in your morning clothes, bring a fresh pair of socks and underwear. It’ll make all the difference and leave you feeling clean and refreshed for your afternoon meetings. If you’re a heavy sweater, a fresh Thompson Tee is a great way to make sure you return to the office feeling refreshed and sweat proof.

Cologne or perfume. Fragrance should be the last step before you head out. Make sure it’s not too heavy and you don’t overdo it.

As long as you’re prepared, a lunchtime workout with no shower is manageable, even if you suffer from excessive sweating. Plus, with Thompson Tee, you’ll have sweat proof protection all day long. Try us today.

P.S. Worried about sweating at the office? Here’s how to stay cool in a suit.

Remember when you were in elementary school, and lunch time was your favorite time of the day? It was the time when you ran with your friends and socialized the most.

Now you may be more than happy to donate your whole lunch break to your employer. But Why? That may not be the healthiest thing for you. It’s time to take back control of your lunch break and make it the most pleasant time of your day.

Benefits:

Let me begin with the benefits you will gain by exercising during your lunch break. You will gain time in your day, and you will lose weight (which can bring some of the childhood happiness back). You will learn invaluable time management skills and you will become a leader amongst your peers. At the bare minimum, you will remove yourself from the stressful work environment.

Lightbulb moment:

When I started, working out during my lunch break, it was really to get away from a horrible boss that I had. My boss wanted me to work during my lunch break, but even when I did so, my boss wasn’t happy. Then I realized that I owned my lunch break, (my boss didn’t) and I could do whatever I pleased with it (as long as I wasn’t breaking the law or company policy).

Common Fears

  • If I exercise, I will sweat, how can I feel clean again?
  • Will I be hungry the rest of the day since I’m trading eating for exercising?
  • Will I have enough time to exercise? What type of exercises can I do?
  • Will I be too tired to continue with my day?

Tips for beginners:

Time will be your only enemy, but luckily there are some tricks and hacks out there to make it all possible. The first challenge to tackle is; how to feel clean again? Specifically because most jobs will not have a shower available for you, or the only showers available may look like these pictures below:

Your best shower solution:

A portable disposable wet-wipe designed to clean your entire body such as Showerpouch is your best solution. This wet-wipe is much larger (2ft X 1ft) than a baby wipe, and is specifically designed to make you feel “shower” clean in 5 minutes or less.

Inside the pouch is a premium full-body wet wipe which contains a custom hypoallergenic, pH balanced, vegan formula formula that can remove up to 99% of body odor and sweat from your skin. The wipe will cool you down immediately, so you can get dressed immediately after wiping off the sweat and odor from your skin. The formula leaves behind a pleasant gender neutral smell on your skin, which most people will compliment you on.

You literally just do the following:

How to eat:

Eating is essential to a healthy lifestyle and I am not saying that you need to stop eating. However, something light such as a salad or meal replacement shake is recommended (). Eat after you have completed your workout and you have used Showerpouch to clean your body, and you have put your work clothes back on.

Eating at your desk after you have taken care of your body will feel rewarding and if someone sees you eating at your desk it will give the impression that you are working extra hard. If you don’t have a desk, and you have to eat prior to returning to your work station, then eating something light will allow you to get back in time.

A protein shake and some snacks for your break time will recommended to curve your hunger in the event you still feel hungry. Note that your body will get used to this time of lunch and will prefer it to avoid “carb coma” in the afternoon. You could experience an increase of energy as well.

Preparing meals and snacks ahead of time at home is recommended. Remember that you will not have time to buy something, and you are trading shopping time to do something productive with yourself. If you are worried that someone will steal your lunch? Trust me, healthy lunches such as salads never get stolen.

How to exercise:

If your job offers you a gym, this would be a good time to take advantage of it. If they don’t offer you can still do the following workouts ():

  • Run up and down your parking lot/office stairs.
  • Walk or run around the company parking lot or around the block.
  • Run a mile around your job (a mile takes about 15 minutes to complete if you have not run for a long time).
  • Roller blade (be sure to know how already, lunch is not a good time to learn)
  • Drive to your local park to do pushups, pullups, etc.
  • Shoot hoops or play tennis with someone.

Will you have enough Energy:

One thing that I learned during my college kinesiology class is that your body will feel more energized when it does more exercise. So don’t be surprised if you have more jump in your step and you begin to look better than your co-workers.

Finally, don’t forget to share the benefits by inviting other co-workers or even organize the workouts for them and you will become a leader. Have a Showerpouch ready for them to relieve half of their concerns and remove their excuses.

It’s your lunch break, it’s time to take control of it.

The idealistic ritual of a midday workout might be far more attainable than even the most over-scheduled among us might first imagine. “I’m a big fan,” enthuses Aurora James of Brother Vellies, who does core and strength training at Equinox up to twice a week. “Mainly because the ferocious morning crowd is absent, but also because I have more energy than in the evening.” Pressing snooze on the alarm clock or leaving ample time for dinner are not the only additional plus sides of rescheduling your daily fitness session for the afternoon. Take LuxCartel’s owner and CEO Natalya Poniatowski, who takes Ballet Beautiful classes that barely work up more than a pretty glow before lunch, because, “Anytime I’m not in the office, I try to be with my kids.”

Similarly, Monica Paolini of Sea New York slips out for a quick mid-morning Pilates session so as not to cut into precious time with her son or compromise the busiest time of her designing day. For others, like stylist Kate Foley, meanwhile, hopping straight from a 1:00 p.m. strengthening class to a 2:00 p.m. meeting is near impossible because, “my gym doesn’t have a bloody shower! I really need other people’s advice on how to deal with it!”

So how do you glide effortlessly from SLT to a meeting without letting on? Cue Vogue Senior Editor Lauren Mechling, who suggests scheduling morning meetings when possible to avoid the overt signs of post-gym flushing and, “start the day with a minimal amount of makeup so you’re not dealing with raccoon eyes at 1:30 p.m.!” James agrees: “I hate the idea of sweating off makeup. Braiding my curly hair was a major workout life hack and I shower on the cooler side and then apply moisturizer straight away so my face has a chance to calm down.” Vogue Entertainment Director Jillian Demling, meanwhile, believes it’s also important to choose the right outfit: “Wear wrinkle-free fabrics that are easy-on, easy-off,” she says. “And tie your hair up loosely with a fabric band so it doesn’t leave that telltale dent.”

As one who shuns gentle classes for full-on midday sweat sessions (SoulCycle! Zumba!), Vogue Contributor Michelle Ruiz Andrews believes, “Dry shampoo is everything.” But for times when leaving before her hair has touched water is not an option, Ruiz Andrews leaves her post-shower hair wet, and spritzes it with Bumble and Bumble’s salt spray. “This sends less of an obvious I-just-worked-out-at-lunch signal to your boss . . . and everyone else,” she says.

Here, seven lunchtime-workout hacks.

1 / 7Chevron Chevron Photo: Courtesy of tomford.com “My pre-gym routine consists of Aesop’s Fabulous Face Oil and that’s it. I like the post-workout glow it gives, even after I’ve washed it off! Origins A Perfect World is my go-to moisturizer and Lucas’ Papaw ointment is my foolproof go-to for lips. You can’t beat a bit of coconut oil as a summer moisturizer and a perfectly applied line of Tom Ford liquid eyeliner does well to counter the post-gym look!” —Aurora James, designer, Brother Vellies Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen, $56, tomford.com

A Quick 20-Minute Lunch Break Workout

I’d like you to reflect a bit on this: when it comes to working out, it’s never about whether you have time to do it, but whether you make time to do it. The thing is, even a short 10 to 20-minute workout can be super effective–and worth it. What I’m trying to say here is that if exercise matters to you, you’ll get it done. Simple as that. So, on those honestly full-to-the-brim days when you’re packed morning till night with work and kids’ activities and errands, what are you to do? If you’re not taking a rest day, try a lunch break workout. Yes, they are possible. No, you do not have to sweat like the dickens (though if you have access to a shower and can make time to rinse off, go for it). And no, equipment is not necessary.

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Try This Lunch break Workout: A 20-Minute Bodyweight Circuit

You’ve got an hour for lunch. Like a lot of us, it may not be convenient or possible for you to skip out to the gym. Instead, change into those sneakers and give this 20-minute circuit a try:

Minute 0-5, (or “A1”): perform as many rounds as possible of:

  • 10 bench or chair dips (find something sturdy! Aka. not your rolling desk chair)
  • 10 sit ups
  • 10 bodyweight squats.

Minute 6-10, or (“A2”): perform as many rounds as possible of:

  • 30-second plank
  • 30 bicycle kicks
  • 30 lunges (15 each leg)

Minute 11-15: Repeat A1

Minute 16-20: Repeat A2

You May Also Like: 4 Leafy Greens That Aren’t Kale

Whether at home, in a private room, or somewhere outside, this bodyweight circuit is a quick, safe, and effective way for you to get a great workout done without getting super sweaty. Not feeling a circuit session? Try a brisk walk with a colleague instead!

Important questions: Should you workout before or after eating your lunch? While individual factors vary a lot, here’s my take: start your day with a good breakfast, and if you’re hungry then have a small snack full of protein and healthy fat mid-morning. At lunchtime, workout first, then within 30 minutes post-exercise eat your lunch. This maximizes the fat-burning effect during the workout and the muscle building effect after the workout. Talk about bang for your buck!

I can think of a ton of reasons why working out during your lunch break is a good idea…at least on some days. Here are 4:

1) Getting up to workout prevents excessive “chair time,” which is especially helpful for anyone who sits a lot on the job. And since “sitting is the new smoking,” it’s clear that the less sedentary you are, the better!

2) Exercise can increase your energy and prevent that afternoon slump–which means you stay productive even when a lot of your co-workers start slowing down.

3) Exercise has been shown to improve mental focus and retention (this has also been shown in kids who study right after a workout or sports practice!).

4) By completing your workout at lunch during an otherwise busy day, you’re freeing yourself from the stress of trying to squeeze in a workout at an odd hour. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you get after exercise can give you a much-needed confidence boost. Who knows–your high spirits may even rub off on your co-workers. Better health and better workplace environment? Sign me up!

Got a favorite way to get moving during lunchtime? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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The Lunchtime Workout

Time Is Of The Essence

Let’s face it, most of us are extremely busy, and performing a workout routine at 6am or after a stressful day of work is just not going to happen. It is tough enough to balance work and family time in the course of a day. How can we possibly work out when we have more important things to do? Working out becomes something we would like to do but is blown off with the simple excuse of,”I just don’t have the time.”

Everyone has time in his or her schedule for better health. It should not be an afterthought, it should be a priority. I think we can all agree that living a long, healthy life is something we should all aspire to do. Well, you’re not going to achieve that goal thinking about working out. You have to make a concerted effort to eat healthy and make working out part of your daily regimen. always say, the choices we make dictate how we are going to look and how we feel.

Workouts Served Fresh Daily

For many of us, lunch-time is the onetime of day that we have the energy to train. The morning blahs, 3 p.m. low, and after-work blues just have never panned out as good times to train. The one hour that you have for lunch can be the time that you take every day to sculpt muscle and burn fat.

Instead of thinking about it, you can make all those goals a reality by taking your lunch break at the local gym. I am sure you can find somewhere to work out within a 5 mile radius of your office. Now, I know a lot of you are saying, “OK, I will work out, but when am I going to eat?” Living a healthy lifestyle does not include skipping meals.

Many gyms are equipped with food and/or juice bars, so you can have a smoothie, meal replacement shake, bar or one of the healthy meals they have available. If your gym is not equipped with a juice bar, then simply bring a healthy sandwich with you and eat it after you train.

Quality Over Quantity

A 1-hour lunch break does not mean you can work out for an hour. You have to factor in the time it takes to get to and from the gym and the quick shower after you’re done training. In reality you have about 30-35 minutes to train. That is more than enough time to get an effective workout in.

You won’t be able to do some elaborate championship bodybuilding routine, but nevertheless, you will be able to perform the basics. Being that you are under a time crunch, I believe it is best to do cardio and weight training on different days. There are hundreds of ways you can structure your routine.

You have to do what is best for you and your individual goals. Here is a sample of a lunchtime workout split:

  • Monday: Upper Body
  • Tuesday: Cardio
  • Wednesday: Lower Body
  • Thursday: Cardio
  • Friday: Upper Body

The following week of training do lower body on Monday and Friday and upper body on Wednesday—alternate weeks.

Sample Upper Body Routine

Exercise 1. Dumbbell Bench Press

2 sets of 12,6 reps. No rest between sets. Rest 30 seconds before starting pull-ups.

Execution: Pick up the dumbbells, keeping your feet flat on the floor, and lie back on the bench. Press the weight up while you breathe out, and then lower it back down slowly. Repeat.

Quick tip: Don’t lift the weight over our face or stomach; the weight should be over the collarbones.

Exercise 2. Pull-ups

2 sets to failure. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Execution: Grab the chin-up bar with an over-hand grip (palms facing bar) and your hands just beyond shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up and try to touch your chin to the bar. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat until failure.

Quick tip: Make the connection with your mind; try to visualize and mentally focus on your back muscles as you are pulling your body up.

Exercise 3. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2 sets of 12,6 reps. No rest between sets. Rest 30 seconds before next exercise.

Execution: Position the dumbbells to each side of your shoulders with your elbows below the wrists. Press the dumbbells upward until your arms are extended overhead (don’t fully lock elbows).Lower to sides of shoulders and repeat.

Note: The next three exercises are done in the seated position, on the same bench. This is a great way to save time.

Quick tip: Keep your feet firmly on the ground and don’t use body momentum to raise the dumbbells overhead.

Exercise 4. Dumbbell Triceps Extension

2 sets of 12,6 reps.

Execution: In a seated position with your feet on the ground and back firmly against the bench pad, take one dumbbell, place both hands under the top plate, lower the dumbbell back to full extension until the forearms hit the biceps, and raise back up.

Quick tip: This is not a natural movement; use good form, try and keep your back straight and your neck still.

Exercise 5. Seated Dumbbell Curl

2 sets of 12,6 reps.

Execution: In a seated position with your feet on the ground and back firmly against the bench, with a dumbbell in each hand, slowly curl the dumbbell in your left hand up and try to touch it to your left shoulder. Squeeze and contract the bicep for a one count and slowly lower the dumbbell to the start position and repeat with your right arm.

Quick tip: Keep your shoulders, spine and entire body straight during the exercise.

Triset: Crunches / Leg Pull-In / Barbell Twist

1 set to failure.

Execution: Crunches can be done on the floor, an exercise bench or ball. Place your hands behind your neck or across your chest; flatten your lower back against bench, curling your head and upper torso up several inches off the bench until your abs are fully contracted. Squeeze and contract your abs for a one count and slowly lower your torso back until your shoulders just about touch the bench. Breathe appropriately.

Quick tip: Don’t worry about repetitions, focus on form. Make sure you are squeezing and contracting your abs on every single rep. Make one rep equal two.

Execution: Sit on the end of a flat bench and lean your torso back to a 45-degree angle to the floor. Extend your legs out at a 45-degree angle and stabilize your body by gripping the sides of the bench or chair. Pull your knees into your chest and then lower your knees back down to the starting position.

Quick tip: Focus on the lower abdominals when you perform this exercise. Feel the lower abs contract and stretch throughout the movement.

Execution: Sit on the end of a bench; place your feet flat on the floor and about shoulder width apart. Place a light bar across the back of your shoulders and hold it while keeping your head stationary. Turn your upper body and shoulders in one direction as far as you can, then turn your torso and shoulders back in the other direction as far as you can, keeping the movement fully under control while getting a full stretch on both sides of your body.

Quick tip: Use a light bar or broom; using heavy weights for this exercise could lead to a serious injury.

The Upper-Body Workout 1 2 sets, 12, 6 reps (increasing weight) + 6 more exercises

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Time Well Spent

Follow this workout or any other, just get to the gym and start moving. The hardest thing in the world is getting started; it is hard to break patterns, but once you make a 100% commitment to a fitness lifestyle, you are going to love the way you look and feel.

Isn’t that worth giving up an hour a day for?

Your lunch hour workout is anything but. Getting to the gym, changing, showering after and heading back all eat into your time on the gym floor, leaving you a 30-minute window to build up a sweat. It’s almost not worth leaving your desk, right?

Not so, according to strength & nutrition coach Brett Durney. His techniques will build quality muscle in a limited window. Follow this simple four-stage programme to optimise your hour, then tackle the full body blitz workout for a quick session that will leave you reeling. It’s time to embrace the brutal efficiency of a true power hour.

Stage 1: Prepare

Be quick off the line when the lunchtime start gun fires by prepping everything the night before. That includes your gym bag – so you don’t leave your shorts under your desk – and your post-workout protein shake and lunch. Having it all pre-packaged means less time queuing in Boots for a meal deal, and more time earning that chicken triple sandwich.

Stage 2: Warm-up

A warm-up seems like wasted minutes when you’re short on time. You’ll have to time to muse on that decision later, when an injury keeps you out of the gym. “Your muscles are like playdough,” says Durney. “When they’re cold they’ll snap, but warm them up and they’ll stretch smoothly and safely.” Opt for a dynamic warm-up. Grab a med ball and squat whilst raising the ball to the sky; repeat whilst lunging. Next, hit the floor: planks with side touches and mountain climber reaches will prime your whole body and get your muscles firing. So you can crack on with playtime.

Stage 3: Showtime

This is no time for challenging your one rep max. These training methods take your muscles to full fatigue quickly, if you’re strict with your rest times and stick to the prescribed movement tempos. The clock’s ticking.

Tri-sets: use three exercises which target the same muscle group, performing each one after the other with no more than 10 seconds change-over. Your rest period will depend on your goal: someone trying to grow lean muscle mass will typically wait 1-2 minutes between moves.

Giant sets: take a tri-set and make it harder. Using four exercises of the same muscle group buils muscle mass and torches body fat at the same time, sending you back to the office with a lean pump.

Pre-exhaust superset: an isolation exercise exhausts the muscle group you’re working, before a compound move performed immediately after takes it to breaking point. More gains, less time.

Post-exhaust superset: reversing the pre-exhaust, you’ll start with a big, compound movement that works your chosen muscle group, then move to an isolating exercise that gets it screaming. Try bench press to dumbbell flyes to overload every inch of your pecs. Just try not to look too exhausted at your desk.

Tabata training: Follow 20 seconds at 100% effort with 10 seconds of rest for eight sets. Use total body exercises, like burpees, to fatigue muscles and burn fat simultaneously.

Stage 4: Recovery

After a burn-out like that, it’s time to take action. Neck that shake you prepared before getting back to the office, ASAP. Now for your warmdown. Stretching at your desk might not be the most discreet, but it’ll save you precious time. Calf stretches can be done sat down, as can a lat stretch. Hold your desk with both hands and push your chair backwards, keeping a straight back. Just don’t tilt it, as your primary school teacher would tell you.

Next, find a doorway and give it your best Samson impression: grip either side and lean forward to stretch your pecs. Finally, take a step forward and drive through your hips when you reach for the mid-afternoon coffee, to release flexors tightened by hours at your desk.

By Jack Hart; Photography: Getty;

How to get an effective workout in your lunch break (and still have time to eat)

With lengthy commutes, demanding desk jobs and a busy social calendar (or a lack of energy to do anything more than collapse on the sofa of an evening), finding time to exercise can be hard.

So theoretically, working out in your lunch break is a brilliant idea.

In practice though, most of us are put off: we don’t feel we really have time to do a meaningful gym session, shower, eat and get back to our desks.

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But this needn’t be the case.

With a spot of forward planning and the knowledge of how to maximise your workout in a short amount of time, you can exercise efficiently in your lunch break and thus find you work even better once back at your desk afterwards.

We spoke to Michael Betts, CEO of TRAINFITNESS, to find out what we need to do in order to fit in a meaningful workout in a lunch break.

Nine tips for working out in your lunch break

1. Schedule your workouts at the weekend for the week ahead

If you don’t actually put your workouts in your diary, it’s all too easy to flake on them. Setting a plan will help you commit to your training and increase the chances of you going.

To show real commitment, write your schedule down and put reminders in your phone. It also helps if you plan to workout with a colleague, as you’ll be less likely to let them down.

“From a psychological perspective, you’ve made an agreement with them and yourself to go and will feel more compelled to see it through,” Betts told The Independent.

2. Always pack your training kit the night before

“When you get up in the morning, you just pick up your gym bag and you’re out the door,” Betts says. “It’ll save you time and reduce the chance of you not bothering, especially if you’re running late.”

3. Pack your lunch to remove temptation

Bringing a packed lunch means you don’t have to waste time in that precious hour going out to buy food. You’ll also be less likely to choose something unhealthy to “reward” yourself for working out.

“Overindulging on ‘rewards’ is one of the main reasons people don’t see results,” Betts explains.

4. Go to a gym that’s close to work

If you have to take public transport, you run the risk of less workout time due to traffic or transportation delays – it can also make the whole experience more stressful and unappealing. A club that’s in walking distance is ideal, and the walking can become your warm-up too.

“A brisk walk to the gym will help increase your core temperature and blood flow to the muscles,” Betts explains. “It will also save you five minutes on the treadmill or bike once you get there, allowing you to spend more time on the training that’s going to get you results.”

5. Bodyweight workouts mean there’s no waiting for equipment

Lunchtimes are quite busy at most clubs, so getting onto equipment can be difficult. If you workout using just your bodyweight, there’ll be no waiting around. All you need is a small amount of space and a mat.

6. Do a full body, Variable Intensity Interval Training (VIIT) workout

“This type of training targets not just the muscles of your entire body but also the different energy systems your body uses,” Betts explains.

You’ll see gains in strength, endurance and you’ll burn more calories. If you’re short on time, it’s a great way to do different types of training all in the one session.

7. A 30 minute lunchtime workout is ideal

“In a 30 minute VIIT workout you’ll do all the different types of training you need in one short session,” says Betts. It also means you have time to get to the gym, change, workout, shower, grab a bite to eat and get back to work.

Check out the example workout further down.

8. A cold shower will help you cool down

No one wants to get back to their desk hot, sweaty and flustered, so take a quick cool shower to bring your body temperature down.

9. Work out before eating

By exercising without too much food in your stomach, you’ll increase your metabolism of body fat, according to Betts.

“The research around intermittent fasting and calorie restriction is very compelling for both weight management and health,” he explains. “You’ve worked out and created a caloric deficit.

“Skipping lunch will mean your body has to get the energy from somewhere and therefore it will start to burn that body fat you’ve been trying to get rid of. Remember, when you break your fast, just eat normally and don’t see your fast as a reason to eat more; that would defeat the purpose.”

So you still eat lunch, just after working out.

T3 blast – example Variable Intensity Interval Training workout, by Michael Betts

Here’s an example of a simple 30 minute bodyweight VIIT workout that can be done anywhere.

30 min workout for your lunchbreak

Warm-up (5 – 10 minutes)

As mentioned above, use the walk from work to get your body ready to exercise. If you can’t, then jump on the treadmill or bike for five minutes before you move onto the mobilisation.

Mobilisation (2.5 minutes)

This part of the workout aims to mobilise the joints to ensure you have a good range of movement and to make sure your body is ready for the upcoming exercises. Mobilisation exercises are full body movements that slowly take the joints through their full range of motion.

Peripheral Heart Action/PHA (5 minutes)

PHA is about doing exercises which target the lower body followed immediately by exercises that target the upper body. You then continue to alternate between the two. These are generally strength based exercises but because you keep changing the working body part, you also increase your cardiovascular fitness.

There is generally little rest between the exercises and your heart and circulatory systems have to keep moving the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients for the working muscles, from the lower body to the upper and back again.

Your heart rate and respiration will increase resulting in overall improvements to your fitness. It’s also a great way to increase caloric expenditure in a short amount of time.

Core (5 minutes)

Full body exercises which require core control will also help you burn more calories in a short amount of time. In our sample workout, we use a Single Arm Down Dog to Plank. You’ll find you need to contract all the muscles of your body, especially your core, resulting in you burning more calories.

Agility (5 Minutes)

As we get older, our ability to get up off the floor and do activities that require fast changes in direction decreases. Like all aspects of fitness however, our agility is something that we can train, maintain and even improve over time regardless of age.

By including a five minute agility sequence in your lunchtime workout, you can improve your ability to move around more freely and decrease the chance of injury when doing something that is a little more out of the ordinary.

Balance (5 minutes)

A lack of balance and proprioception (body awareness) can increase the chance of injury. The best exercises designed to improve these things are not just static balances, but dynamic movements that require focus and core control.

The five minute sequence included in our example T3 blast workout will take you through a variety of positions where you’ll struggle to maintain your balance. Each time you do it though, you’ll get better.

Active Recovery (2.5 minutes)

Stretching is important. If we don’t stretch when we exercise, the muscles will shorten over time, they’ll feel tight and the chance of injury is greatly increased. At the end of you VIIT workout, you won’t really have enough time to do a full body stretch. So I have included example of exercises which will help reduce this shortening effect of exercise.

It is highly recommended though – you set aside one to two sessions per week where you can focus on your flexibility. I would suggest a good mid-week stretch and then one on the weekend when you have more time. You won’t need a lot of space and it can be done anywhere.

And just like that, your workout’s done and you haven’t had to get up early or sacrifice your social life in the evenings.

If you get into the habit of exercising at lunchtime, it will just become a normal part of your day, you’ll be more focused at work in the afternoon after having a decent break, you’ll have more energy and – once you start seeing results – you’ll probably never go back to eating al desko.

Working out during lunch

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