The Lunch Hour Workout
No time to work out? Try a lunchtime fitness break.
"I'll have a chicken salad sandwich on whole-wheat toast, a tall glass
of iced tea, and a 30-minute workout -- to go!"
It still may sound a bit strange, but experts say that combining fitness and
lunch is one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into a busy
"From CEOs to college students, working out during a lunch break is
growing in popularity, and it really is a fun and easy way to get more physical
activity into your life," says Craig Valency, a personal trainer at the
Scrippts Ranch Bally Total Fitness club in San Diego.
Some workout facilities, like the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in
Dallas, have established restaurants on the premises, so members can grab a
healthful meal and a full-body workout in a single trip.
But is a lunch-hour workout really effective? And is it really possible to
exercise and still have time to eat, shower, and get back to work -- all within
"It is going to take a little bit of planning and some coordination, but
not only can it be done, it's often easier than you think," says Mari
Croze, a personal trainer at the Central Michigan State University Fitness
For example, on days you plan to work out, make sure you've packed your gym
bag with everything you need for the day, wear work clothes that make it easy
for you to change, and bring a brown-bag lunch.
And don't forget that lunch-hour workouts don't have to take place at a gym.
Bike riding, in-line skating, even walking to and from a restaurant can all
count as a lunch-hour workout, Croze says.
Intensity Is Key
Whether you're lifting weights in a gym or walking to the deli, experts say
the key to benefiting from a "quickie" workout is to work harder.
"What you're going for here is an accumulated effect, and it's not about
the length of your workout, it's about the intensity -- that's what makes the
difference," says Phil Tyne, director of the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness
"Research has shown that even just 15 minutes of exercise can net you
nearly the same effects as 60 minutes of working out, if you increase the
intensity," adds Tyne, a former conditioning coach for the San Diego
The overall trend in fitness is away from long aerobic sessions and toward
shorter workouts, even when time isn't a factor, Valency says.
"If you do a short-burst, high-intensity workout, you also get a calorie
burn that lasts after you finish working out, so it's also ideal if you want to
lose weight," Valency tells WebMD.
And what kind of workout can you do at lunch? Just about any workout you
could do at any other time, in an abbreviated form.