Many experts tout morning workouts as the key to productivity. But, if you find yourself hitting snooze repeatedly before dragging yourself to the gym early or struggling to navigate exercise around the dinner hour, you may want to explore a new option: lunch break workouts.
While a stigma still exists around lunchtime sweat sessions—not to mention fear of getting too sweaty or being unavailable—there are plenty of reasons to pack a bag and hit up the gym midday. Plus, physical wellness tends to lead to better job performance. Here’s why fitting exercise into your lunch hour can be the best way to add strength training, cardio, or a quick HIIT workout to your fitness routine, as well as boost performance at work.
More Energy Throughout the Workday
Raise your hand if you’ve ever encountered the notorious 3 p.m. coffee slump. Productivity naturally dips after eating lunch. That’s why many of us reach for sweet snacks or strong coffee to power through the afternoon. It doesn’t help that we sit way too much throughout a given workday, which research shows to be as deadly as smoking.
Lunchtime workouts allow you to step away from your work for a true break, then come back after an hour or so feeling refreshed and ready for the afternoon. Giving yourself a mental break means your odds of being super productive are much higher. You’ll also have more stamina to tackle difficult strategic projects or finally finish your pesky to-do list.
Boosts Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
Ever had your next brilliant idea in the shower, miles away from a computer? Research shows that a relaxed state of mind allows you to make better, more thoughtful connections. It’s the same for taking a true break at lunchtime. This might seem a little counterintuitive, especially since 65 percent of Americans either rush through lunch at their desk or skip lunch breaks entirely. But, exercise releases endorphins, which introduces dopamine to your brain and reduces stress.
After exercise, your creativity could ramp up for nearly two hours. One study even suggests that your brain can sharpen by 5-10 percent in terms of cognitive function. Studies have found that workers who spent 30 to 60 minutes exercising at lunchtime saw an average performance boost of 15 percent (tell that to your boss!).
You Won’t Waste a Single Workout
Raise your hand if you’ve planned on a 6 a.m. spin class only to slog through the set list dreaming of coffee. Or you’ve shown up to 5 p.m. yoga and basically spent the whole time in child’s pose. We’ve all been there, and lunchtime workouts provide the perfect solution, as you most likely will have plenty of energy to perform your best. You’ll also utilize better time management for the workout itself. If you know you only have 60 minutes, you won’t waste time checking your phone on the elliptical or leisurely walking through the weight room.
Before you argue there’s not enough time to workout over lunch, think again. You can absolutely complete an effective workout anywhere between five and 45 minutes. If you need to build up to a longer lunch, try a few of the 7-Minute Quick Hit workouts on Aaptiv to start. Also consider this—your body temperature naturally raises a few degrees in the middle of the day, which may actually enhance your workout performance. Who knows: with lunchtime workouts, you may be inspired to work out more often and more consistently! You may even hit a new personal best.
Your Mornings and Evenings Open Up
Exercising over lunch means your entire evening is free for happy hour, walking your dog, hanging out with your partner, or catching up on beloved TV shows. And, in the morning, that extra hour translates to more sleep, watching the news with a cup of tea, or easing into your workday.
By working out midday, you can repurpose those extra morning and evening hours to “make up” any work that slipped by stepping away from the office.
You’ll Feel Better
Exercise is clearly good for your mental health, and doing it in the middle of a work day can allow you to better cope with difficult coworkers, think more strategically and tackle a heavy workload. Another bonus? Any type of workout over the lunch hour can make you feel a million times better upon returning to the office. In one study, workers who took a daily lunchtime walk said they felt more enthusiastic, less tense, and more relaxed compared to days they skipped the stroll.