Unless you’re lucky enough to work from home, it can be hard to sneak in a midday workout. You so badly want to make the most of your lunch break, but the logistics aren’t necessarily in your favor. Even if your office is one of those super swanky spots that has a rock climbing wall and on-site gym, you’re still left in a perspiration pickle.
Do you throw caution to the wind and just go for it, pounding out a few miles on the treadmill? If so, then more power to you. But for most people, returning to the office dripping in sweat isn’t exactly proper etiquette. So, what’s an office drone to do if he or she wants to turn lunch hour into workout hour? Get creative, that’s what. Avoid the post-workout pit stains with these 10 lunch break workouts that are sure to keep you dry.
1. Tai chi
To target your mind and increase your mobility
OK, so you probably associate tai chi more with meditation, and less with actual exercise, but the practice has more benefits than you may realize. With origins in Chinese martial arts, tai chi is the perfect way to escape, both mentally and physically, during your lunch break. You also get to breathe in some fresh air. No, it won’t burn the same number of calories as a cardio workout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap what you’ll be mindfully sowing.
The mind-body practice is often described as meditation-in-motion, and for good reason. Tai chi may prevent and treat many common health problems, according to Harvard Health Publications. The story goes on to say, “Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.” Not only will you get your blood flowing, you’ll return to work refreshed.
2. Floor full body workout
To target your whole body and increase strength
PopSugar perfectly breaks down a string of moves that will target your whole body. From your shoulders to your abs to your hamstrings, you’ll be firming and toning without ever having to leave the floor. Heck, if you have space to keep a yoga mat under your desk at work, this is a great way to put it to good use during your lunch break.
The workout is a series of eight exercises (to be done twice), including twisting lunges to target your core, side bridges to challenge your obliques, and tabletop positions to work your arms. Taking no longer than 15 minutes, the workout is meant to challenge your whole body, without totally inducing sweat and draining your energy. Keep your movements smooth, and focus on staying controlled for more of a challenge.
3. Static sculpting moves
To target your upper body
While it’s totally possible to work up a sweat while holding certain positions, it’s also likely you won’t. All you need to do is find a combination of static moves that allow you to sculpt and tone without dripping and panting. Using your own body weight to train, static exercises will build tendon and ligament strength. And, according to Shape, holding a single position can help your body learn the correct movement.
Moves that will tone your back and arms include the superman, chair pose, and chin-up holds. For the superman, lie on your stomach and extend your arms straight overhead, with legs extended straight. Lift your head, chest, arms, and legs off the ground, and hold the position for 30 seconds.
The chair pose, which works far more than just your quads, uses resistance to strengthen your upper back. Once you’re in chair pose, focus on keeping your arms straight and beside your ears. Resist gravity’s pull and the urge to drop your arms.
For a chin-up hold, not only will you build muscle in your arms and upper back, but you’ll also be lengthening your spine as you hang from the bar. By hanging at the top of the chin-up for 20 seconds, you’ll be strengthening your body to pull and hold your weight throughout the movement.
4. Twisting exercises on a balance board
To target your core and posture
When it comes to your core, it’s fairly easy to keep it engaged if you’re being conscious about it (read: It doesn’t take much to engage it. Actually achieving a six-pack, though, is an entirely different beast). Well, the good news is you’re engaging your abs just by standing, as long as you’re concentrating on proper posture and tightening your ab muscles. But adding instability obviously adds more of a challenge. The best way to do it? A product like the Simply Fit Board.
You might have seen the Simply Fit Board on ABC’s Shark Tank. Marketed as an exercise board offering an easy and effective workout, the product gained notoriety when its founders struck a deal with investor Lori Greiner. Seeing as this board is low-profile, low-impact, and forces you to engage just by standing on it, it’s pretty much the perfect piece to add to your standing desk set-up. You’ll engage core muscles while improving strength and balance.
To increase your overall flexibility
Maybe you don’t consider stretching a full-on workout, but as it turns out, it’s a pretty crucial factor in most other types of exercise. Without stretching, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. But you already knew that. So, why not use the time when you have no business working up a sweat to stretch it out?
From stretching your quads to doing toe-touches, you’ll be doing your body a great service by limbering up, regardless of your typical workout routine. Don’t shy away from using your lunch break to retire to a quiet corner in your office. Spend the time to really stretch out every muscle you can feel. Not only will you be escaping office chaos, but you’ll also be preparing your body for its next workout. This way, you’ll have more stamina, better mobility, and be able to gain more muscle during your next hard effort.
To improve your posture, increase your flexibility, and boost your energy
In addition to making the most of your much-needed lunch break, the benefits of yoga will pay off for years to come, so long as you keep with it. According to The Huffington Post, immediate benefits include improved brain function and lowered stress levels — both ideal for returning to work. After just a few months of practice, you may also experience lower blood pressure, reduced chronic neck pain, and even improved sexual function.
Because you don’t have a ton of time in the middle of your day, try Shape’s 10-minute yoga sequence. It consists of five poses that will leave you feeling strong and refreshed. Hold each position for five deep breaths, and repeat the entire routine three times (or more if you have time and are looking for a longer workout).
To build lean muscle and improve your mobility and flexibility
A TRX system is a suspension tool you can use in any location with a door. Working against your own body weight, this highly-praised piece of equipment allows you to determine how much of a sweat, or lack thereof, you’re aiming for in each session. With a wide variety of exercises to choose from, you can pick which part of your body you’d like to focus on.
If your office is equipped with a break room that has a door, or something of the like, rally your co-workers to ask your boss to make an investment. After all, happy workers make for a more productive work environment.
To target your legs and maintain a healthy weight
You may not be able to run five miles during your lunch break, but you do have time to get outside and stretch your legs. You’ll burn calories without working up too much of a sweat. Not only will you escape the office for a bit, but you’ll also be able to soak up the sunshine and get some fresh air. Walking is the easiest, most accessible activity, so if you’re healthy, there’s no excuse. Better yet, round up your co-workers and start a daily walking club. You’ll be getting exercise while fostering team bonding at the same time.
To target your shoulders and improve lung function
If this isn’t the perfect way to combine working out and bathing (as long as you don’t reek of chlorine), we’re not sure what is. While swimming obviously won’t keep you dry, you’ll be burning calories in a manner that doesn’t require much else but a quick towel dry.
If your office is located near a pool, consider yourself lucky. Swimming allows you to burn calories without even messing up your hair much — just throw on a swim cap. Additionally, swimming laps and water aerobics both offer a low-impact workout that’s easy on your joints. You’ll be able to squeeze in a good workout before returning to the office sans shower, and your co-workers will be none the wiser.
10. Stair climbing
To target your legs and get your heart rate up
You don’t have to hit a StairMaster at the gym to reap the benefits of climbing steps — lots of office buildings have stairwells, which often go unused. Regardless of how much time you have, you can burn about a calorie and a half for every 10 steps. It may not be the sexiest workout, but it’s one you can do without breaking too much of a sweat before getting your heart rate up.