Power Up Your Lunch Break – The Midday WorkoutPosted: August 20, 2014
Have you ever considered working out on your lunch hour? Between inhaling a quick sandwich, wrapping up emails, and finalizing deadlines, for many, that question seems almost comical. The thought of fitting in a workout and returning to your desk without being a sweaty mess can seem challenging.
Experts say, however, powering up your lunch hour may be one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into a busy lifestyle and boost your afternoon productivity “Depending on how quickly you refuel after you’re done, the boost can last for two to three hours,” says Dr. Darin Padua, director of the Sport Medicine Research Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For me, client meetings and afternoon engagements have always steered me away from midday workouts. However as a mother of two toddlers, recently I’ve realized that this might actually be the best time of day to sneak in a quick and efficient workout. My other options are to sacrifice the two hours of me-time in the morning I allow by getting up at 5 a.m. – not happening – or working out after my two little ones go to bed. In the latter case, more often than not my workout gets skipped, and when I do manage to fit it in, the energy it gives me makes it difficult to fall asleep.
As a result, I’ve found my lunch hour has actually become the most appealing time to workout, especially with these tricks I’ve gained to avoid returning to the office in a disarrayed mess. Whether you’re a working mom like me, or a busy professional with an equally busy social life, use these tips to make the most of your lunchtime and ensure your fitness routine gets the regular attention it deserves.
Pick Your Location Wisely
If you’re thinking of signing up for a gym, consider places most convenient to your office, but ones that also have multiple locations. This’ll make it easier to slip out during lunch, and will also give you less of an excuse not to swing by immediately after work if you miss a midday workout. With the potential to go to other locations, you may also find a location near your home for when the weekend rolls around.
Make sure to also choose a gym with access to a full bathroom. Being able to jump in a shower, even for a mere minute, is an effective way to feel like you’re coming back to work as refreshed as possible. This quick rinse time can become your transition period for switching your mindset from workout to workplace.
If your gym doesn’t have a shower or your feeling notably short on time, a pack of baby wipes can do the trick. I also like to keep a backup makeup bag and supply of deodorant in my gym bag, along with a washcloth for quickly lathering my face.
For packing pre-workout, keep a few extra pairs of gym clothes at the office. That way, even if you forget your bag one day, you’ll be prepared.
Have the Right Mentality
It’s important to keep in mind the mantra that Some Beats None. You don’t need an hour to get in an effective workout, especially when you power up the intensity. When short on time, go for the sprint rather than the marathon by upping the ante on your weights a few pounds and picking up your speed when doing cardio.
“A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery,” says Eric Salvador, NASM, NSCA, head instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. “This afterburn effect is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.”
Even if you don’t feel like giving yourself an extra intensity push, remember that twenty minutes is still more effective than not working out at all. A mini sweat session is better than a static lunch hour at your desk, and will be beneficial to both your physical and mental health.
Still worried about the time crunch? Each lunch break workout will give a kick in the butt to that pesky mid-afternoon slump and, studies prove, will likely boost your productivity for the remainder of your day, too. So think of it this way – you could either spend that same 45 minutes struggling through an afternoon writer’s block or aimlessly browsing the web. Or you could put it towards boosting your health so you can return to work with a clear mind, ready for the next project thrown your way. Now which one sounds more efficient?
About the author: Gina Horkey is a freelance writer, with a love for all things health and fitness. She’s passionate about designing a flexible lifestyle suited to meet the needs of her young family, who together love camping, biking and soaking in as much outdoor time as possible. Gina hopes to inspire others to do the same in leading an adaptable life towards health.