With a little planning and a shift in perspective, you may find that improved health is closer than you thought. We make the case for the lunchtime workout

We get it, you’re busy- and that makes it challenging to find time for exercise. Family and work responsibilities never end, and it seems like something always pops up to derail your workout plans. Some mornings, just getting out the door on time is a challenge- never mind waking up an hour earlier to hit the gym. The post-workday window can be just as difficult to navigate, compounded by the fact that you are probably exhausted from another long day at the office.

If you’ve lived out this scenario, you may have already accepted the inevitable – missed workouts are unavoidable, because there are simply not enough hours in the day. But what if you could fit in that workout while boosting your energy, mood, and creativity? With a little planning and a shift in perspective, you may find that improved health is closer than you thought. Enter the lunchtime workout.

If you think about it, exercising at lunch makes a lot of sense. If you work in an office setting, there is a decent chance you’ve spent the better part of the morning seated. The health risks associated with long bouts of inactivity (specifically sitting) have been well documented. Exercise during your lunch break is a great way to break up this inactivity and give your brain the boost it needs in the afternoon. You may even stop reaching for that 2:30pm caffeine jolt, as employees that participate in physical activity during the workday report increased levels of productivity and stamina. There are plenty of reasons to get active at lunch, but also a few hurdles that prevent people from getting started.

Unfortunately when it comes to the mid-day workout, time is not on your side. That’s okay, but because you’re on a schedule, planning is critical. Check out these tips to help ease the transition and arrive back at your desk looking good and feeling even better:

• First, it may be a good idea to communicate your intention to workout at lunch with your supervisor. Depending on the nature of your job, this may not be necessary for everyone- but transparency is usually appreciated.

• Depending on your activity of choice, changing clothes may not be necessary. However if you need to change, packing your workout clothes the night before can save a step in the morning. If you exercise at lunch with some regularity, it may also be useful to keep an extra change of clothes at the office- you never know when they may come in handy, especially in the warmer months.

• For folks that hit the gym at lunch, having a plan beforehand will make your workout more efficient. If you only have 20 or 30 minutes to complete your workout, you’ll want to make the most of that time. Write down your intended workout routine and keep it on hand for quick reference. Then you won’t have to think about what exercise to perform next. Group exercise classes are also a great choice, if they fit into your schedule.

• When the clock is ticking, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to maximize your workout in a short period. HIIT involves switching between high-intensity, short-burst exercises with limited breaks. Because HIIT workouts are demanding, 20 – 30 minutes is plenty. Here is a great example of a high-intensity interval workout that can be performed without any gym equipment.

• If driving to the gym is too time-prohibitive, simply walking, running, biking, etc. from your office is an effective way to get in your activity while sparing the drive time. If the weather is lousy, walk inside your building or climb flights of stairs.

• Consider keeping a post-workout hygiene kit with the essentials: deodorant, dry shampoo, baby wipes, and a fresh towel are all great options, especially if you do not have the time or facilities to shower.

• Because this endeavor takes place during your lunch, it seems important to address the fact that at some point, you will want to eat. The brown-bagged lunch is key here. Try to pack items that refuel your body and are easy to eat at your desk. Sandwiches, nuts, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, and apples are just a few ideas. Ordering takeout can get expensive, so pack your lunch and consider including mid-morning and afternoon snacks.

Now that you have some tips for streamlining the lunchtime workout, break out of your old routine and give it a try! You’ll feel great about the health benefits gained, and get the bonus satisfaction of checking ‘work out’ off of your to-do list. Remember that planning is key, especially in regards to logistics and food. For extra support and accountability, recruit a colleague to join you.

Looking to get active on campus? Participate in the 2018 Fresh Air Fitness Series. A variety of classes are offered throughout the month of June. Each class runs from 12:10pm – 12:50pm, and all classes are FREE! For a full list of Fresh Air Fitness programs and to register, click here: health4u.msu.edu/courses/fresh-air-fitness-series-1

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