Work in a Lunchtime Workout

Find time for fitness with this 20-minute, low-impact routine you can complete on your lunch break.

Lunchtime workout

David Martinez

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Like many of us, Alison Graham feels she has no time to work out. As the executive vice president of a public relations firm, wife, and mother of a 6-year-old daughter, she typically has days that include long hours. "I haven't exercised in three years, since I returned to work full-time, and I miss moving my body and doing something healthy for myself," she says.

After examining Graham's overscheduled calendar, fitness expert Tamilee Webb, creator of the DVD series Tight on Time, decided Graham's lunch hour offered the ideal time to fit in a quick workout. By exercising during lunch, Graham doesn't have to wake up early or arrive home late, so her schedule remains intact. "It's pivotal to work within your time constraints to find a good time for exercise; otherwise you won't do it," Webb says.

Webb developed a practical, low-impact routine that Graham―or any busy woman―can use to efficiently work multiple body parts at once. She also created a soothing stretch sequence to help Graham cool down and clear her mind before returning to work. "The entire routine should take about 20 minutes and can be done at home or in an office environment," Webb says.

Transition from work to workout with these helpful tips

• Stash a set of five- to eight-pound dumbbells at your desk. "Even if you only have time for a few sets, you'll feel more energetic and motivated," Webb says.

• Keep a pair of walking or running shoes, T-shirt, and shorts or tights at the office to put on for your workout. If that's not feasible, use your discretion. "If you're wearing a skirt, skip the moves that require you to lie on the floor and save them for a day when you're wearing slacks," Webb says.

• Store a blow-dryer and deodorant in your desk drawer. "While our routine isn't designed to leave you dripping, these items can help you freshen up if needed," Webb says.

• After you're done, simply reapply face powder and lip gloss to revive your makeup. Exercise provides a natural blush for your cheeks.

Power lunch: What to eat if you exercise during your lunch break

"If you exercise at lunch, consider eating both before and after your workout," says Ashley Koff, RD, founder of healthXchange, a nutrition counseling company based in Los Angeles. "Having a mid-morning snack will help fuel your workout while allowing enough time to digest before you exercise. Eating a well-balanced meal afterward will replenish carbohydrates and other nutrients and clear mental cobwebs for the rest of the day."

Before (about 200 calories)
"Eat a balance of carbs, protein, and fat," Koff advises. "Avoid heavy, salty, or fatty foods." Here are a few preworkout snack options to try:

• Half a banana with a handful of raw nuts or 1⁄4 cup of granola

• Latte with plain soy milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon

• One apple smeared with a tablespoon of peanut butter or other nut butter

After (aim for 300 calories)
"Exercise doesn't mean you can overeat," Koff says. Choose balanced postworkout meals like these:

• A cup of minestrone, fruit, and string cheese

• Whole wheat turkey sandwich with mustard, reduced-fat cheese, cucumbers, and a tablespoon of guacamole

• A sushi roll and small salad with a teaspoon of ginger dressing

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