The 30 Minute Workout During Your Lunch Break: Grab That Core Exercise Ball!
When I worked full-time, I decided that I needed to find a workout solution that worked for me, my family and my limited schedule. I needed and wanted to be available for my three children as much as possible after work, so I really didn’t want to tag that on at the end of the day. So, I decided I would start working out early, early in the morning before the kids were up, and before it was time for me to be getting ready for work. The first day I was up and at ‘em, jumping gleefully into my workout clothes (I’d set out the night before) and off to the gym before anyone even stirred. My workout was fantastic, my energy was high, I felt invigorated and ready for my day. The second day I pressed the snooze button. .. Twice. It was pitch black, I didn’t want to turn lights on, I couldn’t FIND my gym clothes. I grabbed some raggedy old shorts and a tee shirt, tripped over the cat and left. On the elliptical, all I could think was: “I need my coffee.” The third day I pressed my snooze countless times, and essentially went for a walk in my pajamas. The fourth and final day, I turned OFF my alarm completely, was ready to hit it with a baseball bat. I tried on and off for the next 6 weeks to successfully pull off this morning routine. But, I never could adjust my sleep schedule enough to overcome the exhaustion of the fisherman’s hours.
Fitting in a quick morning workout routine works beautifully for some people. I really wanted it to work for me as well. It seemed like the least interruptive of all time frames. However, I wasn’t setting a realistic goal for myself here. I’m clearly not a morning person, in fact I’m a night owl. My body wasn’t able to adjust to the new sleep schedule, so I had to throw in the old gym towel and find another solution.
The 30 Minute Workout: While at Work…
I’ve never really understood why we need a full hour for a lunch break. My breaks were usually about 30 minutes and I was back to my sedentary desk. It dawned on me that I had a good 30 extra minutes during lunch to fit in a quickie workout.
Is 30 Minutes Enough?
The new American College of Sports Medicine guidelines recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise five times a week or intense aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes 3 times per week. These minimum requirements are enough to reap the healthy benefits of weight loss, bone density preservation and heart disease protection. In addition to the health benefits, you can also bank on some psychological benefits. Those endorphins go a long way in the attitude boosting department. You’ll get a fresh new outlook on the second half of your day. Exercise also helps alleviate stress and creates feelings of relaxation. Your boss and coworkers will thank you, too.
Climb Stairs: I worked in a building with a lot of stairs, so that was my first foray into my 30 minute lunch time workout. I managed to get in a pretty good cardiovascular workout this way, too.
Actually Go to the Gym: This may not be an option for everyone, but if you have a company gym or are lucky enough to be close to your own gym, you’re in luck. I used to be of the mindset that I needed at least an hour at the gym to really get anything accomplished. Wrong! A 30 minute workout is plenty, even 15 minutes is infinitely better than nothing. Don’t use this as an excuse. Plan to go to the gym the night before, however. Pack up your gym bag, stick in some deodorant, some , some facial spritzer, and a small towel as well as your attire. If you run out of time to shower, instead do a sponge bath routine in the locker room. Spray your face with some spritzer to freshen up, too. Bring a midmorning snack with you. It’s best to not exercise on a completely empty stomach, so plan on eating around 100 to 400 calories about 2 hours before your noontime workout. Have lunch after your workout, preferably the lunch you brought from home to save time.
Sample 30 Minute Workouts
Cross Training: Use your walk to the gym as a warmup. If the gym is in your building or just far enough that you drive for the sake of time, just hop on the treadmill for a few minutes. Take advantage of cross training. Not only does it help you engage different muscle groups, but it also has some psychological advantages. For one, changing machines helps fend off boredom. Also, it’s easier for you to tell yourself you’ll work as hard as you can for just 10 minutes at a time. Which machines you use will depend upon your preference as well as what your gym has available. A good mix, however is the elliptical, rowing machine, and stationary bike trio. Do all three for 10 minutes.
Take a Class (Or Part of One) Many gyms have noon exercise classes, check the schedule. A spin class is an excellent way to get in an intense 30 minute workout. You may have to leave early, SO BE IT. The goal here is 30 minutes of sustained activity. I’ve even chatted with the instructor before the class to give him or her a heads-up. Frankly, you won’t be the only one leaving to go back to work.
Circuits: If your gym has a circuit, by all means use it. Curves for Women is an example of a gym that’s centered around circuit training. Circuits are basically a mix of cardio and strength training where you move in a particular order, from station to station. I belong to a 24 Hour Fitness that has a 30 minute circuit called Xpress Zone. It begins with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up, followed by abdominal crunches. It then moves onto a brief 30 second visit to each of 8 strength machines. The goal is to complete 15 repetitions in that 30 seconds. Next comes 2 minutes of full intensity cardio training on a treadmill, cycle or stair stepper. The strenth and cardio combination is repeated twice, before the 5 to 10 minute cool down period. 15 seconds are allowed between machines for set up.
Let’s face it, you’re the only one who knows what type of exercise you actually enjoy. Frankly, you’re not going to stick to a gym routine if you hate every minute of it. Find what you LIKE to do there and “accessorize” it a bit. Frankly, were it not for my MP3 player drowning out the otherwise frightening tunes blaring at my gym, I’d be an unhappy little gym rat. I use my gym time to really enjoy my own music. For a change of pace, I bring in magazines or books that hold my attention, as well. Yes, I’ve been known to scour an entire People magazine in one elliptical session, without too many stares. If you’re a stair climber and that’s just what you like and find challenging, then that’s what you should do. Frankly, I can entertain myself with the programs on our machines alone. I do enjoy programming in the interval training or cross country programs and focusing on the challenge. Anyway, “accessorize” how you see fit.
Obvious Lunch Hour Workouts
Bring your gym shoes and go for an intense power walk or jog. Better yet, grab a companion. Having a lunch hour buddy is a strong motivator when you’re accountable to someone besides just yourself. Get that heart rate up so that you’re still able to talk, but finding it a challenge. If it’s not for 30 minutes, go as long as you can. It can be helpful to set a destination, too. My walking buddy and I had a favorite coffee shop at the end of our trail. We grabbed a coffee to go to enjoy after we had lunch at our desks. We knew it took exactly 30 minutes to travel our route quickly. We felt motivated to keep up our speed since we really were in a time crunch.
Stability Balls Can Make Great Desk Chairs
Stability Balls on Amazon
Pull Up Your Ball and Have a Seat: Small Workplace Tweaks
One effective way of sneaking in exercise is ditching your office chair! This may just be the mother of all quickie exercises because it takes absolutely no time out of your day.I worked at a hospital at the
time and a nutritionist coworker of mine suddenly began having hideous bouts of back pain. I show up one morning to find her sitting on a stability ball at her desk. Granted, we had crummy chairs, and a shortage, to boot, but I was pretty sure she’d taken this a little too far. She explained that she’d seen a physical therapist who recommended
this be her new, snazzy office furniture. As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of evidence supporting the benefits of this alternative chair. Not only does it work to strengthen core muscles, but an Indiana
University study suggest using a stability ball as a chair also engages
leg muscles, particularly the shin and hamstrings. Warning: start slowly, don’t sit on the ball from 9 to 5! Begin sitting on it for 30 minutes per day and work yourself up to longer periods gradually. As you become stronger, begin rolling back and forth on the ball, then move
it in small circles while maintaining your balance. Practice sitting up straight, using your very best posture and engaging your abdominal muscles. You’ll be surprised by how much this little change can benefit
your core strength over time. It’s also good for people with back pain.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to these stability balls, there are some general guidelines here. A 55 cm ball is for those who are 5’ to 5’6” inches tall. If you’re 5’7” inches tall or over, you should be using a 65 cm ball.
- Using a stability balls as an office chair can help more than just your abs: IU News Room: Indiana U
Using a stability ball as an office chair strengthens core muscles, similar to the use of a backless chair or stool; the freedom of movement from a stability ball also may decrease confined or constrained body postures that frequently occur at workst