By Brett Grossfeld
A midday workout is a luxury for those lucky enough to live close to the gym or work in a building with an on-site fitness center. However, for most folks, working out during working hours requires both dedicated planning and good luck. My own work schedule hasn't always been the most flexible. But now that I work in an office environment, I’ve found that it’s worth going out of my way to use my lunch break for exercise.
I work out during my lunch hour because:
It breaks up the workday. Exercising at lunch after a busy morning is a great way to both blow off steam and get an adrenaline boost that will carry me through the next four or five hours of work. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, and if I'm able to get a full workout in, I don't need to hit the gym after work (when it's filled to capacity).
It helps me avoid sugary, caffeinated pick-me-ups. I love coffee and will happily champion its benefits, but I find that when I don’t exercise at lunch, I’m denying myself a healthy midday energy boost that, unlike coffee, doesn't involve a crash. In dire situations, I’m inclined to down a candy bar or sugary drink when I don't work out -- and the crash from that can pretty effectively ruin my entire evening.
It helps me manage my eating. I have to plan accordingly on the days I exercise at lunch. That usually means having a big breakfast or light lunchtime snack that doesn’t leave me feeling bloated. When I don’t work out in the afternoon, I’m shamelessly prone to dashing to the closest eating establishment in sight (which, more often than not, is a taco joint or really shady hot-dog cart). End result: an hour or two of sluggish work. Working out at lunch helps me keep up the discipline of eating healthy throughout the day.
It inspires me to get in a variety of workouts. I don’t have the luxury of a nearby gym, so I have to use my surroundings when I exercise at lunch. That can be as easy as a half-hour session of hill runs or sprints on top of the parking structure. But sometimes it means push-ups in my cubicle or yoga in the park. I never know what my work schedule will dictate, so I set up specific workouts for the free time that I get. A 15-minute lunch usually means a quick abs blast, while a full hour can involve a warm-up, a decent amount of cardio, and some stretching. No matter what I do though, I always keep an extra change of clothes in my car -- and plenty of deodorant. As great as it is to get in a midday workout, it’s never worth having your colleagues avoid you because you smell like sweat.