Admit it, there are some weird folk who genuinely can’t wait to leap out of bed before dawn, don their running shoes, hop onto their bike or to spend their evenings in the gym.
There is good news for us normal people with acceptable circadian rhythms that peak in the afternoon, who press the snooze button and refuse to emerge from under the duvet to get active, or slump on the couch because hitting the gym after work is too exhausting. A lunchtime speed workout is actually more beneficial to our bodies because our muscles are warmer as a result of a higher body temperature at this time of day (less risk of injury and a greater range of motion) and, according to research the best time to do weights is around midday – the strength output of muscles is at least 5% higher at this time.
Instead of sitting at your desk during this allocated rest period, chowing down on a toasted cheese sandwich and working through, take the break and get active. Divide your usual lunch in half and eat it about an hour before your designated lunch time. Eat the carbs early, for some easily digestible fuel.
After your workout, eat the protein half of your lunch to replenish and rebuild muscles. How about a green salad with chicken? Or celery with peanut butter?
Naturally, you’ll have to be organised – gym clothes packed and ready to go, and shower in record time in order to be back at work on time. Perhaps arrange to work in some extra time in order to add half an hour onto your lunch hour?
Besides being better for your body to utilise the middle of the day part of your circadian rhythm, you’ll return to your desk pumped up and more creative, with, funnily enough, more energy to get through the afternoon slump. Which you won’t have, as your blood is flowing and you are benefiting from the physical activity.
A study at Leeds Metropolitan University found that improved time management skills, mental performance, mood and mental attitude resulted from midday activity. Double bargain – exercise out of the way, more energy AND a better mood to take home with you after work.
With HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) making waves in the exercise world, effective exercise can be done in much less time, by increasing the intensity and shortening the period. A solid workout can now be had in 30 minutes as HIIT is intense, explosive bursts of movement with short breaks or periods of moderate intensity in between.
You can do an HIIT session in the conference room as no special equipment is required. A basic HIIT routine could be:
50 sit ups, 40 jumping squats, 30 push ups, 30 burpees, 10 tricep dips and 30 lunges.
It’s all about the planning, however, so to keep you motivated and on top of your exercise plan, pre-plan your weekday workouts and diarise them. Shorten your warm up if you are only doing cardio and always pack a nutritious lunch to eat at your desk.