10 Easy Ways to Work Out During Your Lunch Hour
Quick Lunchtime Workouts
The Surgeon General’s 1996 report on Physical Activity and Health, which recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, is the benchmark of physical fitness today. But busy schedules often make it hard for many people to find the time to fit in a workout. With this in mind, what better time to work out than your lunch hour? Whether it’s a brisk walk outside or a desk-side core session, our clever, office-friendly exercise guide proves the physical and mental benefits of physical activity in the middle of the day. (Just make sure you leave time to eat!)
1. Take a stroll.
Grab a coworker and take a lap around your office building. If you’re solo, plug in your favorite playlist and take in the fresh air. According to a recent study, 30 minutes of walking can improve your mood and productivity for the rest of the day.
2. Go for a run.
3. Practice your downward dog.
Many yoga studios offer a 45 minute- or hour-long class at midday, catered to those who have to rush back to the office afterwards. In addition to building strength and increasing flexibility, yoga is a proven stress reducer and can encourage productivity throughout the afternoon.
4. Try circuit training.
Short in duration but high in intensity, circuit training combines strength and cardio for an ideal full-body workout. Start with a variety of timed plyometric exercises, such as lunges, squats, and jumps, adding weight if you prefer. Make sure to focus on your technique, as good form prevents injury and benefits your muscles the most.
5. Discover uncharted territory.
Make an adventure out of your lunch break—use your smartphone to map out a route to a new destination, such as a bakery a few blocks away or a sculpture in a nearby park. Consider a fitness tracker to log your progress and challenge yourself to increase your step count each day.
6. Create your own personal gym.
It may sound silly, but if you don’t have access to a gym, an empty room in your office building is the next best thing. Wall sits take up little space and work your quads, while pushups challenge your core and upper body. Stash a pair of free weights and a balance ball under your desk, and cycle through your favorite exercises.
7. Go for a bike ride.
Bike share programs are on the rise in cities around the country as an eco-friendly way to commute. We encourage you to take advantage of this fun and simple way to incorporate light exercise into your day. Ride down a scenic path or bike to a lunch destination that’s too far away to walk.
8. Check off your to-do list.
Using your lunch break to accomplish errands within walking distance, such as grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning, will help you relax after the workday. For example, if you can plan and shop for tonight’s dinner ingredients now, that’s one less thing you have to do later!
9. Try sitting isometric exercises.
If you’re stuck in front of your computer, don’t fret—isometrics are a great way to get in a quick workout without leaving your chair. Squeeze your glutes and hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat until exhaustion. Or, place your hands behind your head and push backwards to engage your neck muscles.
10. Strengthen your core (as you type).
Here’s another clever idea for when you can’t leave your cube. Try sitting on a large balance ball, instead of an office chair, to activate your core and encourage upright posture. For an added challenge: Scoot to the edge of your chair and extend your legs outward. Slowly raise and lower each leg while engaging your core.