Social season is upon us and that leaves little time for dashing to the gym after work. While we want you to enjoy the festive season (mince pie anyone?), there’s no need to abandon exercise until the New Year. The benefits to mental and physical health are well documented, plus wouldn’t it be wonderful to create a habit you can stick to? The work lunch hour is often wasted by staring idly at your phone, so get savvy, fit in a workout and return to your desk ready for anything from a tough meeting to another Christmas catch up.
We spoke to Keith McNiven, founder of London based personal training company Right Path Fitness, and he shared his 10 exercises to fit into your lunch hour.
1 Go for a 40 minute walk.
This one has to take top spot because you don’t need to get changed into gym kit, you probably don’t even have to change your shoes (unless you wear stilettos to work, in which case trainers might be a good idea!). Set off at a brisk walk, and 40 minutes later you’ll have burned around 350 calories (depending on your speed, weight and age) and have enough time to fit in a healthy lunch too.
2) Take a spin class.
Most spin classes are around 45 minutes, making them ideal for a lunch-time workout. They are also brilliant for calorie burning, with an 11 stone person using up approximately 450 calories during the session. You might get sweaty though, so factor in 5 minutes for a quick shower afterwards!
3) Get a park workout.
You don’t have to go to the gym to get a good workout as your local park has everything you need. Grab a bench and do 20 press ups (face down with your hands gripping the edge of the bench), 20 mountain climbers (same position as press ups but bringing each leg alternately in towards the bench) 20 dips (head facing upwards, hands holding the edge of the bench and dipping down using your triceps, 20 step ups (carefully onto the bench and off again) and 20 lunges near to the bench (make sure your lunging leg is at 90 degrees). Then sit back on the bench to eat your lunch!
4) 30 minute run.
Even if you have strictly one hour for your lunch break, a 30 minute run is definitely feasible. A run can burn anything from 200-500 calories in 30 minutes depending on how fast you run and your age and weight. Most smartphones have an app that will help you to track distance and calories. Then, a good protein rich lunch like chicken on wholemeal pitta to refuel.
5) A 20 minute swim.
Swimming is often disregarded as too much hassle, but it’s one of the most inclusive activities you can do being gentle on your joints as well as being a full body workout. Pack your suit, cap and goggles and aim for 20 minutes in the pool with a fast stroke such as front crawl. 20 minutes later you’ll have vanquished around 250 calories- and have plenty of time to get changed and back to your desk.
6) Fit in a HIIT session.
With high intensity interval training you get more bang for your buck, so you train really hard for a short time, with an even shorter rest period, say 60 seconds exercise then rest for 20 seconds. This makes HIIT ideal for lunchtime, as you can get a good workout in 20-45 minutes. Find a class local to you, or do your own HIIT workout with swimming, running or bodyweight exercises.
7) Yoga class.
The ideal antidote to workplace stress, a lunchtime yoga class! As you stretch into downward dog and child’s pose, you’ll be improving your flexibility and strength. Yoga is also good for improving posture which helps if you’ve been slouched at your desk all day. Most yoga classes will take an hour though, so plan this for days when you don’t have to rush back to the office.
8) 30 minute fat burner.
30 minutes is more than enough time to do an effective weights session at the gym, and remember that muscle burns way more calories than fat, making weights the perfect fat burning lunchtime workout. Do a circuit of exercises for your lower body so 20 walking squats (holding two weights), 20 dumbbell single leg squats and 20 kettlebell swings – then repeat so you do the circuit 3 times in total. Then do a circuit for your upper body 3 times, with 20 triceps dips, 20 hammer curls and 20 seated dumbbell presses.
9) The conference room circuit.
That conference room at work barely gets used so why not make it into a lunch time circuit class? You only need a few bits of kit like a skipping rope, some resistance bands, maybe a few hand weights and a stability ball. Make around 10 different ‘zones’ so you can do different exercises for 60 seconds before moving on. Sit ups with resistance bands around the ankles is a good one or stability ball press ups. If you don’t have any kit, just keep it body weight only with burpees, squats, sit ups and press ups.
10) 30 minute boxing.
If you want a lunchtime workout to really pep you up then boxing is it. Boxing targets every muscle as well as improving balance, co-ordination, strength, agility and endurance- you’ll be on fire for your afternoon meetings! Head to a local club for 30 minutes of sparring and letting out your frustrations on the punch bags. All that ducking and diving also adds up to a massive burn, around 450 calories in just 30 minutes.