Fitting in a run may be problematic if you don’t have access to shower facilities, after all, you’re hopefully going to work up a sweat and your colleagues won’t be quite so keen to work with you in the afternoons. Clearly you’re going to need time to stretch and then freshen up after your run, so if you’ve only got half an hour available to actually run, then make it a quality session. A half hour run at a steady pace is going to be more beneficial than a 30-min plod. If you are really pushed for time, why not carry out your runs on hilly terrain to maximize workout you are getting.
A walking workout is more beneficial than you might think. It could be something as simple as a walk to a shop or restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat. If the place you usually grab your sandwich is just a short distance away, then find another one which is at least a good 15 minute walk away – that guarantees you’ll walk for half an hour each day. As you improve, increase your pace/and or the distance, so find a sandwich shop even further away! Alternatively, partner with a co-worker for a serious power walk near your workplace.
An effective alternative to going for walk outside is walking up and down your workplace staircase. Stair climbing will work your leg muscles and increase your heart rate at the same time. You don’t even have to have a massive number of stairs as you can just keep going up and down even the smallest flight of stairs numerous times. A 30-minute session is ideal, and as with the walking workout, aim to increase the pace or number of stairs you climb each session. Why not add a bit of variety and use the staircase one day and opt for the walk around the block on the other days, weather permitting of course.
The proximity of your nearest swimming pool is clearly going to be a major factor in deciding whether you can fit in a swim, unless you’re one of those hardy souls willing to take a dip in the nearest stretch of open water. Assuming you’ve got less than an hour, you want your session to derive maximum benefit so make your session as intensive as you can by swimming intervals with short recovery periods in between. Don’t try to cram in your lunch beforehand and then go for a swim as your lunch could well end up paying you an unwelcome visit.
Why not get on your bike? If you take your bike to work each day with the intention of cycling at lunch time, this will at least mean you are cycling to and from work, for starters. Fit in a lunchtime ride and you may suddenly be clocking up some serious miles. Not only will a ride break up your work day, it will leave you more alert for the afternoon. Since the rides will be relatively short, you can go at it hard or head for the hills for a firmer workout. If the weather makes the prospect of a ride unappealing, why not go for the stationary bike or invest in a turbo trainer if you have somewhere to place it
Come on and get your skates on. In-line skating provides a great low impact workout which some studies have suggested provides the same level of aerobic activity as running or riding a stationary bike. Regardless of the scientific debate, skaters can get the maximum out of skating session by interval skating (e.g. one minute of hard followed by one minute easy over a 30 minute period) or by using the time to skate uphill. Inline skating develops muscles in the entire upper leg, rear end & hip, as well as the lower back. Muscles in the upper arms & shoulders are also developed when arms are swung backwards and forwards while skating.
If there’s nowhere suitable for a workout outside of the workplace, then maybe your workplace should be the place you work out. If you have a private space at work, or somewhere you can shut the door for half an hour or so, this could be ideal. You just need a few feet of space where you can do some exercises without disturbing anyone or being disturbed. There’s plenty of exercises that can be done, even in an office, so make use of it and get going on those chair squats, leg stretches, knee bends, chest stretches etc.
If you’ve got easy access to a gym, then it makes sense to use it occasionally. Some gyms offer lunchtime classes or circuit training sessions that are ideal for a lunch break, or you could just focus on giving it half an hour on your favourite cardio machine, remembering of course to up the intensity of the workout. Alternatively, you could do cardio one day and strength training the next day to vary your workout so that you do not neglect any part of your body.
If you just want to stretch and relax during lunchtime, you might want to try a yoga session. Not only is yoga great for improving your strength, flexibility and muscle tone, it’s also excellent at reducing stress levels, which can be useful on a particularly bad day. And the great thing is you can do a yoga workout with working up too much of a sweat so you won’t necessarily have to shower afterwards – great if you’re really pushed for time. If yoga is a little bit too far out there for you, then consider an all-over-body stretching workout to keep all those muscles supple and re-invigorate you for the afternoon ahead.
Who says workouts have to be physical? If you’re not in the mood for working up a sweat, then how about giving your mind a workout? Ok, so you might be thinking your lunchtime workout should be about helping clear the mind of the morning stresses of work, not adding to it – but some of you prefer to work the mind rather than the body. You could opt for a crossword, Sudoku, or even some form of brain training so that you work on the fitness of your brain instead of the body.