No matter how productive you believe your workplace is, if you are sitting at your desk eight, nine or more hours a day, then you aren’t working at your full potential. The best way to ensure that you stay recharged and ready throughout the day is to ensure that you rest, restore and move during lunchtime.
Benefits of workplace fitness
As people spend more of their time at work, it’s essential that an increase in effort is made towards better health and fitness initiatives. Given the risks of sedentary lifestyles1, those who work in sedentary job roles should look at implementing fitness goals for themselves, such as remembering to stand more throughout the day, by using standing desks if your workplace has them, getting up to speak to colleagues rather than use the phone, and most of all getting active during your lunch hour.
Research suggests exercise during regular work hours may boost performance.2
Both low-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise can lead to higher levels of energy3, so workplace fitness doesn’t necessarily have to involve strenuous exercise. With this in mind, here are some great ideas for how you can get fit during your lunch hour:
1. Organise a weekly fitness session with your team
If you know enough people who are interested and committed at your work, why not have a professional trainer come and do a few sessions with you in outdoor spaces near you? They can show you some great exercises and routines you could do, particularly if there is an outdoor gym available to the public in your area.
Alternatively if your group feels confident with exercising on your own, set up a routine that everyone follows to ensure everyone gets motivated together. Group exercise encourages participation through peer pressure and it’s also more fun for participants.3
2. Do a daily lunchtime walk
Walking is a great form of physical activity and because it’s low impact it’s suitable for everyone, even those who may have back pain or joint issues. Try to avoid eating at your desk and get out of the office during lunchtime for a walk. While you’re at it, get your colleagues involved! You can do this by emailing some local walking routes on maps, with landmarks, cafes and other places of interest marked.
A great way to increase your motivation to hit the sidewalk is to invest in a fitness tracker, such as a pedometer, Fitbit or Jawbone.4 These can be a great reminder of how little you’ve moved by lunchtime and will spur you on to hit your step goal by the end of the day.
3. Hit the gym at lunch
Another great lunchtime workout is to simply hit the gym. People tend to associate the gym with pre-work or after-work sessions, but a one-hour lunchtime break is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a 40 or 45 minute workout and a quick shower.
If your building doesn’t have a gym, why not check with your company if there are any opportunities for discounted gym memberships or fitness studios? It can’t hurt to ask!
4. Organise a team sport tournament
If you and a few of your colleagues are enthusiasts for a particular type of sport, why not set up a company team and organise weekly matches?5 Whether it’s basketball, netball, or some other group sport, there are many benefits to training as a group. For example, you could build positive relationships with other members of your team and even outside of your department, which could in future create a more positive and cohesive company culture.
5. Conduct mobile meetings at lunchtime
Sitting and talking in a room for hours can be draining on the mind and body. During busier times when you may be unable to take time out for exercise during lunch, try having your meetings out of the office for a change of environment. Not only can this help with your mental health, but it also means you’re moving more than you would have if you’d stayed inside.
6. Do a 10-minute lunchtime ‘wake-up’ routine6
Even when you have barely any time free during the day you can still manage to get your heart rate up and the blood flowing with a speedy 10-minute workout.
You might keep an exercise DVD at your desk and book a spare meeting room for 10 minutes during your lunch hour to complete a quick workout. These exercises should include cardio, mobility and quick warm-ups and cool-downs.
7. Yoga and stretching in the office
It’s important both for your physical and mental health that you try and get out of the office for at least a small period of time each day. However, if you are truly pressed for time and unable to leave the office during lunch, why not keep a yoga mat at work and take 10 minutes to do some yoga poses and stretching?
Both yoga and stretching can promote better circulation, relaxation and flexibility. It can also help with sore backs and improve posture. A good 10 or 20 minutes stretching can give you a fresh new perspective and support an improvement in productivity after lunch.7
Tips to keep in mind
To avoid injury, make sure you warm up with a good stretching and cool down routine. If you have any doubts, always consult an exercise specialist for advice before beginning your workouts.
Warming up – You must warm up and stretch appropriately. If you invest in a private fitness instructor or weekly fitness classes, your instructor can teach you basic warm-up movements to prevent injury and strain.8
Cooling down – Wind down for the last 10 minutes of the workout, rather than stopping abruptly and getting into the shower. This can have a counterproductive effect on cooling down. Drinking cold or ice water will also facilitate the cool-down.9
What to eat – Ensure that you eat appropriately for your workout. For instance, a high-intensity session at lunchtime means you should eat a big, hearty breakfast. If it’s a low-intensity workout, a piece of fruit such as a banana or half your lunch might be sufficient. Post-workout food is also important. A smoothie, nut butter sandwich or other smaller meals with a one-to-three ratio of protein to carbs will best support post-workout recovery.10
The right gear – You need to have the right workout gear and shoes. Wearing appropriate shoes and clothing helps reduce the risk of injury.11
Remember, everyone is different so we recommend seeking advice from a qualified professional before making changes to your fitness program.