So You Want to Start… Working Out at Lunch

Kimberly Daly Farrell
by Kimberly Daly Farrell
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Shuttling the kids to school in the morning, extra curricular activities before dinner, work, work, work… When your day is completely packed, squeezing in a workout during your lunch break might be the only opportunity for you to burn a few extra calories. Still, some days even doing that seems like a feat. Here’s how to carve out a few minutes and get your sweat flowing in the middle of the day.

Figure out how much time you really have Sad, but true, most office workers only get about 30 minutes for lunch—just enough time to grab a sandwich and hit the restroom before heading back to your desk. But you might be able to eke out a few more minutes by coming in a little earlier and staying a little later. Padding your workday with 10 minutes on each end gives you 20 extra minutes at lunch to power walk around the parking lot.

Pack the night before Filling a gym bag with your workout clothes the night before makes it easy to grab and go in the morning. And preparing ahead of time for your post-workout change ensures you won’t forget anything important. Some key items to slip in: a small towel, deodorant, face wipes, and an extra pair of socks and undies.

Be efficient Lunchtime workouts are not for socializing. Yes, it’s fun to see all your buddies at the gym, but getting into a catch-up conversation will eat into your workout time. Have a plan of attack before stepping foot into the gym—maybe you’ll do 20 minutes on the elliptical today, and tomorrow you’ll do a 20 minute strength circuit in weight room. If you move quickly during a circuit training session, you can burn about 160 calories in 20 minutes, plus you’ll build calorie-torching muscle mass.

Head for the stairs When you don’t have time to drive to the gym, use what you’ve got around the office to get your heart pumping. The stairs are a great spot to get in a quick cardio session. Plus, no one ever takes them so you’re not likely to run into your boss mid workout.

Make it a meeting Got an idea strategy session with a coworker on the calendar? Ask her to join you for a walking meeting. Or bring her to the gym with you and set yourselves up on side-by-side treadmills. With the blood pumping you’re sure to be extra creative!

Have a clean up strategy Remember the towel, deodorant, and face wipes you packed last night? Those items will come in handy after your sweat fest. Most offices don’t have showers, so you’ll need to be creative at the sink. Swipe a damp paper towel over your skin and use your small towel to dry off. Face wipes can soothe facial redness, and deodorant will mask any post-workout odor. If you have long hair, consider investing in dry shampoo—shake it into your roots before pulling out your ponytail, massage into your scalp, and brush through for instant freshness!

Don’t forget to eat Bring a healthy lunch to work that will be easy to handle when you get back to your desk. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, or a smoothie made with Greek yogurt will provide post-workout protein. Other good picks: hard boiled eggs, reduced-fat milk, hummus or almond butter and sliced veggies.

Do you workout during your lunch break? What are your strategies for making it happen? Share in the comments!

About the Author

Kimberly Daly Farrell
Kimberly Daly Farrell

Kimberly Daly Farrell is a contributor at MyFitnessPal. A certified health coach and self-proclaimed running addict, Kimberly studied integrative nutrition and has completed three marathons. She has previously held editorial positions at Shape, Glamour, Fitness, and Good Housekeeping magazines. You can follow Kimberly’s running adventures on her personal blog, Some Kind Of Runderful.

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