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At this stage, there really are no more excuses for not working out, yet many people still struggle to squeeze in a workout, but have you thought about a lunch break workout? Some reasons for not working out are valid: Successfully juggling a demanding career and taking care of family commitments normally requires long hours out of your day. But if you’re spending your precious spare moments managing a handful of fantasy football teams or staying current with every new Netflix drama—it’s on you.
And science has proven that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of health issues. So if you’re unwilling yet to make your training work after work, why not within work, like, say, your lunch break?
If you’ve got an hour to get away in the middle of the afternoon then you’ve got more than enough time to get a solid workout in. Even with driving to the gym, changing, showering and getting back to work takes up half of that time, a 30-minute workout puts you back on the training track and puts you miles ahead of those waiting in line for a middaty machioto.
A short workout is always better than no workout—and getting the work in over the long run leads to healthier habits that may lead you to find other ways to expand on that 30 minutes.
The first step in creating an effective lunch hour workout starts by considering it as an option. Here’s how and why it could work for you.
Lunch break workouts don’t cut into your sleep or your evening leisure time with family, or force you to go to bed early so you can get up earlier. You also get a mental break from work and a midday energy boost. Working out consistently improves your energy—which bleeds into enhanced focus and productivity. You might even find you’re more efficient during work hours and less often need to take work home on evenings and weekends.
Committing to a lunch break workout also ensures you take your lunch break instead of working through it. Even the smokers at your work take their breaks. Committing to a break establishes boundaries around your work and your well being.
Lunch break workouts are less likely to be skipped because of late nights and poor sleep or evening family or social commitments. An added plus: You also avoid the chaos of packed early evening gyms.
Ideally, you’ll have access to a gym nearby. A lucky few will have a gym in their work building and an employer who considers health and wellness a priority. Most cities have gym options within a short walk or drive. Convenience is your top priority, even if the equipment or amenities are lacking. If you can keep your total turnaround time under 15 to 20 minutes, you have more than enough time to get a great workout. Look online for all the gym options in the immediate area. You might be surprised to find some small private facilities, or group exercise studios nearby. Some people hire a trainer or attend a class as a commitment to working out.
More employers understand that healthy and active employees are often happier, more productive, and take fewer days off. Employees who feel their employer values them and have the flexibility to prioritize their fitness, are less likely to leave. Many employers are more flexible on working hours as long as the work gets done or you’ve worked the agreed upon hours. Getting to the office 15 minutes early or staying 15 minutes late so your lunch “hour” becomes 75 minutes creates more turnaround time to get to and from the gym.
Talk to your supervisor, expressing your effort to maintain your physical and mental health, productivity and energy, and propose a little more flexibility around your lunch hour—while ensuring your boss that won’t advantage of his gym generosity (nothing good will come if you turn an hour into a three-hour workout). Only the most myopic (or powerless) supervisors will refuse. If you’re the boss, learn to give yourself (and your employees) the time needed to put your health first. Business owners can be the worst for sacrificing health for the shortsighted illusion of productivity.
In the worst-case scenario in which there’s no reasonable option to reach a gym, you can choose bodyweight circuits if you can find a space to hide out and train. Celebrity trainer and Muscle and Fitness cover athlete Don Saladino is one of many coaches who offer inexpensive, quality bodyweight workout plans. Barring any other options and having decent weather, going for a walk on your lunch break can be one of the most energizing and health promoting behaviors available.
You might believe you need at least an hour for a great workout and won’t bother trying if you don’t have this window. Working out for even 30 minutes a day, especially going from nothing, would be life altering. Even gym diehards can do a lot with 30 to 45 minutes in a gym. We just need to modify our tactics.
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