When you work in an office setting, it can be hard to fit in your workout. Days are long, your schedule is full, and your before-work and after-work time may be booked with family obligations, networking, and a long commute.
With everything you need to accomplish in a day, your lunch hour might be the only time you can squeeze in some exercise. According to a study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, there is an increased prevalence of obesity in those who work in office settings. So starting a lunchtime workout is a step in the right direction for keeping those extra pounds away.
There are plenty of creative ways to make your lunchtime workout happen, even if your company doesn’t offer equipment or an exercise space on the premises. So, here are eight ideas for your lunchtime workout — experiment with them all and see which ones work best for you.
(P.S. Most of these are under an hour in length, so you’ll still have time to clean up and eat a nutritious lunch—hint, hint.)
1. Utilize the Stairwells
Any office buildings that has multiple levels is likely to have a back staircase just waiting to be utilized. Climbing stairs will work the glutes, calves, and hamstrings, and even help strengthen your core.
Try going up a flight or two as quickly as you can, then walking back down a few times in a row. Do this for 20-30 minutes.
2. Bring a Jump Rope
To get some great cardio for your lunchtime workout try jumping rope. You can keep this handy fitness device right in your desk drawer. If it’s nice outside, find a spot out there to jump. A parking garage works, too, if the weather is bad.
If you haven’t jumped rope in a while, then start with intervals — jump for 3 minutes, then rest for 2. Work your way up to jumping for 30 minutes.
3. Rally Some Walking Buddies
Enroll some of your co-workers into walking with you. The company makes the walking time go by much faster and it may help strengthen your team, as well. According to the Mayo Clinic walking provides great metabolic benefits and may help reduce your risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers.
Make sure you gear up with weather appropriate clothing and footwear, and you can walk all year round. Try walking for 30 minutes at a pace where chatting is not easy and you feel a little out of breath.
4. Look for Lunchtime Gym Classes
If your office is in an urban area, you may be able to find local gym classes you can slip away to on your lunch hour. Take a yoga, CrossFit, or Pilates class. If you prefer more of a Zumba-type aerobic dance class, look for those. The point is to find classes you’ll enjoy attending again and again so you actually do it.
Many gyms offer 30-minute classes around the lunch hour to accommodate people’s busy schedules. Check around to see if a gym in your area offers any of these.
5. Find an Empty Conference Room
Bring a yoga mat to work and claim an empty conference room at lunch hour. There are all kinds of fitness routines you can do that require zero equipment. Bodyweight exercises like planks, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and simply jogging in place will get your heart rate going.
Follow-along exercise videos are a great tool for lunchtime workouts. Check out our bodyweight exercise series by Whole Life Challenge co-founder Andy Petranek. These are short and intense, but easily modifiable to any fitness level.
6. Just Run
You can always go for a quick run for your lunchtime workout. According to the American Heart Association, running vigorously for 75 minutes total per week can help keep your blood pressure down, cutting your risk of having a stroke or getting heart disease.
Try walking briskly for 10 minutes, running for 20, then walking for 10. If you’re new to running, then start with intervals. Run for 2 minutes, and walk briskly for 3 until you reach the 30-minute mark.
7. Get on Your Bike
If you have a bike rack on your vehicle, you can bring your bicycle to use on your lunch hour. Many downtown areas have excellent bike paths you can follow for a quick ride and a breath of fresh air—not to mention you might get to explore some new areas.
Make sure to learn the traffic rules in your city when it comes to bicycles, and look for bike-only lanes or paths if possible. Lunch hour is likely to be a busy time and safety should be your priority.
8. Hire a Trainer to Come to the Office
Get some of your coworkers to go in with you on hiring a personal trainer to come into the office to lead a class. The trainer will typically bring any necessary equipment and all you will have to do is get permission from your employer to conduct this type of group activity. Presumably, your boss won’t mind because it has been shown that fit workers are more productive, according to a health survey done by Willis for their annual Health and Productivity Report.
One of the statistics stated that workers who exercised at least 30 minutes per day were found to be 15 percent more productive.
Some Additional Lunchtime Workout Tips
We tried to keep these lunchtime workout ideas on the shorter side so you’ll still have time to freshen up after your lunchtime workout — and also eat. If you’re increasing your activity level, you may find yourself getting extra hungry. Make sure you choose healthy lunches and don’t succumb to the goodies in the snack pantry, though, or you’ll be sabotaging your exercise efforts.
If you’re really going to take on this lunchtime workout habit, you’ll also want to keep some basic toiletries in your office rather than haul things back and forth every day and risk forgetting something. Clean out one of your desk drawers and stock it with deodorant, any essential hair products, extra pairs of socks, and a pack of baby wipes for a quick post-workout “bath.”
Start out with just two to three days a week of lunchtime workouts and increase per your comfort level. By following some of these ideas, you’ll get closer to your health and fitness goals, have more energy to power through your afternoons, and maybe even gain a deeper appreciation for your coworkers and the neighborhood surrounding your office.