If you are tied to a desk 9-5, you understand the difficulty of balancing a fitness regimen with other demands of your life. Family, social events, work events, and chores are all vying for your time and attention in those hours you call “free time.” Even though I find exercise to be fun, invigorating, and relaxing, it’s often hard to work up the motivation to get to the gym before the sun is up, or to put on my running shoes after a long day of meetings.
To stay on track, I’ll hit the gym during my lunch hour instead of going out with coworkers. Here my 5 tips to make squeezing in a workout during your lunch hour a breeze.
1. The Night Before
Prep, prep, prep! I set out my breakfast, lunch or post-workout shake, and put a water bottle in the freezer. I also get my gym bag together and put it out next to my work briefcase so I can’t forget anything. Just a few minutes at night can streamline the morning and make sure you get to work with everything you need.
2. Keep it Simple
For a lunch workout, you have about 40 minutes to actually work out, less if your gym isn’t right around the corner. Creating a simple workout strategy will keep you on track so you don’t end up with aimlessly wandering through machines wondering what to work on next. The easiest way is to pick one focus: like cardio, HIIT, or strength training. Some gyms offer special classes to really pack a punch during the lunch rush.
3. Make it Social Hour
If you feel like you are missing out on the social aspect of lunch with coworkers, grab a friend. Meeting up at the gym holds you accountable, and you can motivate each other to work harder. The best qualities in a workout partner differ for everyone. Some people like to instruct, other liked to be instructed. Some people just want to meet up with a friendly face before plugging in their ear phones and doing their own thing. As long as you and your workout partner are on the same page, there is no good reason not to work out with a friend! Not only does meeting a friend make you less likely to cancel a gym session, but talking while running can also increase your cardiovascular capacity!
4. Save Time for Shower Time
If I’ve done cardio, I usually need a shower in order to stay on good terms with my coworkers. I will hop right off the treadmill and head for the shower line. While I’m in line, I’ll do some basic standing stretches to loosen up. If you don’t have time to stretch, it’s okay. Studies have shown that stretches even hours after the workout are still beneficial. It’s all about what works for you. I prefer to do a quick basic stretch routine so my calves don’t tighten up while I sit at my desk.
5. Don’t Run on Fumes
Whether you are rushing back from the gym or have some time to spare, you can’t forget about post-workout fuel. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and bring your lunch on the days you will be gymming it up during lunch so you don’t have to complicate your plans with an extra stop. If I have afternoon meetings, I like to leave freeze a smoothie in the office freezer and toss it in my bag to thaw so I can have a quick snack right after I work out. If I have free time, I’ll eat at my desk while I get organized for the afternoon.
With these tips, you’ll have no problem crafting a lunchtime workout routine that you’ll stick with. As long as it is enjoyable, there’s no reason to quit. Running back and forth to the gym can be a lot of effort, so if you streamline it by planning ahead, it’s more likely to become a habit. Lunchtime workouts can easily become an escape from the office commotion, and they’ll help you blow off some steam so you’ll be sharp and focused for your busy afternoon.