How to Work Out on Your Lunch Break in the Office

woman leaning on the back of her chair at the office

Combining full-time work and exercise has never worked out, and it looks like you need to sacrifice one of the two. Or not? Learn how to make it work.

Is it possible to stay healthy and fit when working at an office? Well, let’s see. Morning workouts are out of the question since you aren’t a morning person, and you start work as at eight o’clock – just the thought of having to wake up at 6am makes you sick, and it’s impossible to know how long you can actually keep this up. Afternoon workouts are also a no-no for you because of the family responsibilities waiting for you as soon as you leave the door.

So, what’s left? The only time left to exercise is during your lunch break. That’s when you leave your kids at school or home with the nanny and get to enjoy some time for yourself. The question is; are you willing to sacrifice some time from your lunch break to get a workout done?

Retaining the right balance is a struggle, though anything is possible with some proper planning. Your time management skills come into play here because working out during your one-hour lunch break means that you need to be resourceful and efficient. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Choose the type of exercise you need

businessman going to work by bikeShutterstock

First, you need to decide if you want to go to the nearest gym to lift some weights or do cardio by walking, running or even swimming – provided of course that you have the time for that. If you think time is going to be a problem for you, you can find the ideal type of exercise that works well with your lunchtime plans.

If you are having lunch out: So let’s say you have decided to have lunch at the restaurant that’s close to work but far away from home. Instead of driving home, you can fast walk, jog or cycle to the place. If you are going with this option, you will need to take your backpack with you with a pair of extra clothes, a towel and a water bottle. No matter how long the distance to the nearest restaurant, this equipment is essential for the modern athletic worker.

If you are going home: If you are living near work, working out shouldn’t be much of a deal for you since you are going to have plenty of time to do it. You just have to keep your motivation high. Laurens Fitness has prepared a list of 20 exercises you can do at home that helps to tone up your whole body without needing a gym, weights or any other equipment.

If you are staying in: There are a couple of exercises you can do at the office and even without leaving your desk. Office aerobics are in fashion now as more people start to feel the pressure of having to sit for eight hours straight looking at a computer screen. These exercises include stretching, desk push-ups, one-legged squats, exercise ball workouts and walking around the office. Fitness experts say that whenever possible you should stand rather sit and walk rather stand. They also say that it’s ideal to walk 10,000 steps a day, and a pedometer can help you keep a record of that.

To keep your workout schedule varied and avoid getting bored, you might want to change your exercise routine every once in a while. This will also help you exercise and tone up your whole body and spend some quality time with your colleagues when deciding to stay at the office.

2. Find the right place

man exercising in outdoor park gymShutterstock

Some companies provide on-site gym facilities that make their gym-addict employees’ lives a lot easier. In fact, some even offer yoga classes and allow employees to access these rooms any time of the day. If you are lucky to work for any of these businesses or Google, then you should make the most of it.

If you aren’t amongst this elite group, however, there are other options. When working out on your lunch break, you need to find something quick, very efficient and conveniently located because you don’t want to waste time driving. Start by searching for nearby gyms or workout studios that offer classes during lunch hours. Some can offer what you need in shorter versions of gym classes that specifically aim to meet the needs of busy full-time workers. When choosing a studio, you should make sure that they offer classes or machines that you can use on your own time, that they are less than 5 minutes away from the office and have showers and locker rooms to use.

3. Plan your time

woman drink coffee and looking watch outdoorShutterstock

Assuming that you only have an hours break and within that time you need to have your lunch, run home or to the gym, exercise and then have a shower, you need to pay attention to how much time you can spend exercising. If you want to do some real work, then you should spend at least 20 minutes working out. This leaves you about 15 minutes to have a shower, get dressed and ready for the rest of the work day, 10 minutes to eat your lunch and relax for a bit and another 15 minutes to spend travelling. Sound like a plan? Why not? Lifehacker has prepared a plan for a 20-minute daily exercise routine that can give you some ideas.

4. Do an intensive workout

woman running on treadmillShutterstock

To get the best results possible, you need to an intensive workout. Since your time is already limited to an hour, those 20 minutes you spend exercising need to be intensive. HIIT or high-intensity interval training is probably the best type of exercise to do during your lunch time break.

This workout helps to burn calories better and longer through a cycle of intense workout for 30 seconds to 5 minutes, then relax and repeat. Laura Miele-Pascoe, PhD professor of coaching education for Ohio University online explains on WebMD that high intensity means using as much energy as you can during exercise in a small amount of time. There are many HIIT workouts including HITT with a bike, tabata squats, burpee-run intervals or boxing workouts. Depending on what you like, you can easily do this exercise at home and in just 17 minutes.

5. Have a back-up plan

traveler looking at the mapShutterstock

Not every day is the same, but you have to be prepared for anything that comes up, regardless what’s going on. In case you are feeling unmotivated to take that long walk to the gym, it’s always a good idea to have alternatives. The easiest thing to do that’s closest to working out is walking around the area. Having a back-up plan also includes taking some extra clothes with you because you never know when you are going to feel like you need to go running.  

If there is no time for lunch, you can always get something on the go – anything but fast food, and eat it when you go back to the office. Since you will be working out, you need something that’s healthy and high in protein to give you the energy to keep going.

6. Determine your post-workout routine

Woman Puts On Make Up As Man Gets Dressed In BedroomShutterstock

One of the reasons you avoid working out during your lunch break is that you are afraid of going back to the office being all smelly and sweaty. But, what if I told you there is a way to avoid that? After you have finished with your exercise, you can get ready for work in just 15 minutes. If you are fast enough, you can have a quick rinse-off shower without washing your hair – a dry shampoo is just what you need, and for the ladies, it's a good idea to carry a small makeup kit to help get you looking refreshed.

So here is a suggested schedule for your lunchtime workout  routine:

1:00pm – Leave the office

1:05pm – Arrive at the gym and change into gym clothes

1:10pm – Begin the 20-minute workout class or exercise on machines

1:30pm – Finish the class, get into the shower; get dressed and ready for work

1:45pm – Eat your healthy meal you prepared the day before or buy one to eat on the go

2:00pm – Go back to the office

See also: 8 Ways to Secretly Work Out in The Office

Finding some time to work out during your lunch break isn’t difficult; it just needs some good preparation and planning in advance. As this workout schedule shows, you can fit everything perfectly into an hour-long lunch break. First determine the type of exercise that best suits your needs, prepare your equipment and you are good to go.

Have you ever tried working out during your lunch break? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section below…