Finding time during your day to fit in a trip to the gym isn’t easy. In fact, “free time” seems almost non-existent. However, research indicates that even 30 minutes of moderate exercise yields amazing benefits, including weight loss, improving your mood, and sleeping better.1
But gym memberships can be expensive, and unless you’re one of the lucky few who has a gym in their home or office building, making an extra trip to workout during lunch just isn’t feasible. Fortunately, there are some great DIY lunchtime workouts that you can do that will help increase your body’s oxygen capacity, and help you burn calories and feel better.
5 Quick & Effective Lunchtime Workouts
One of the most accessible exercises that you can do over your lunch break is lunges. Lunges have been the centerpiece of exercise routines for amateur and professional athletes alike for years. While the key movement and benefit of lunges is in your hamstrings and thighs, the exercise also engages your core muscles and tones your rear!2
Lunges can be done with barbell weights, but they’re not required. Keeping your back straight, with your arms at your sides and your eyes focused straight ahead, step forward with one leg. As you step forward, lower your hips to the point where both of your knees are bent at roughly a 90-degree angle. The knee of your front leg should be directly above your front-leg ankle. Your back knee should not touch the floor. To complete a lunge, step back with your front foot so that both feet are next to one another, squared beneath your shoulders again. Repeat with your other leg.
Do 15-20 reps per leg, and feel the burn in your legs and buns. If you’re feeling really ambitious, try a few lunges throughout the day as you’re walking around the office, too.
Love them or hate them, pushups have redeeming qualities that make them one of the best workouts any day of the week. Most people are familiar with pushups, but making sure that you’re doing them properly will ensure you get the most out of this exercise. Pushups are also known to strengthen key muscle groups when done consistently.3
While there are many variations of the pushup, the most common involves placing your hands on the ground with your feet together, or less than 12 inches apart from one another. The body should be straight from the ankles to the shoulders.4 To perform a pushup, lower your body towards the ground by bending your arms at the elbow until your upper arm is roughly parallel to the ground. From here, return to the starting position and repeat.
3. Desk Yoga
Yes, you read that right! You can do yoga right from the comfort of your desk. Sure, it may be a little different than what you may do at your typical yoga studio, but the benefits can be great, and you’ll be thankful for your namaste moment the rest of the day.
One easy yoga pose that is ideal for improving posture and balance can be done from the comfort of your chair. With both of your feet planted firmly on the floor, straighten your back so that it is perpendicular to the floor. Then, breathe in through your nose while looking up and gently arching your back while pushing your belly forward and your shoulders backwards. Then, as you exhale, slowly round your back, bringing your shoulders forward as you do so. Inhale again and bring your back to the upright position.
Repeating this exercise can not only benefit your back, but the controlled breathing component may also help calm your nerves or reduce stress that has built up during the day.
4. Brisk Walking
Walking may one of the easiest and most underrated ways to improve your health, wellness, and overall oxygen capacity. And doing so every day has been linked to a reduction in heart issues, high blood pressure, and a host of other illnesses.5 What’s not to love?
If you’ve got weight loss goals, walking can be a great way to burn calories when done properly and when paired with healthy eating habits. Lunchtime is the perfect time of day to talk a walk, too. In order to get the most out of your walk, follow these tips:6
- Choose a smooth path.
- Walk slowly for about 10 minutes to warm up.
- Walk slowly again to cool down after your exercise.
Like pushups, most people have at least some familiarity with crunches. Variations abound for crunches and for good reason: Different exercises can strengthen different areas of your abs and core, so finding one that is right for you should be a (brisk) walk in the park!
One approachable lunchtime-crunchtime workout is the leg-lift. Laying flat on your back with your arms to your sides, lift up one leg 3 to 5 inches off the ground, and slowly place it back down on the ground. Repeat this with your other leg. After several repetitions, you’ll start to feel those calories melting away as you engage, and strengthen, your core muscles.
Health For the Long Haul
Creating new routines can be incredibly rewarding, especially when the new routines lead to better health and a happier mood. Whatever exercises you find, the key is to be consistent. Enjoy your reinvigorated lunch break!