Work and life can often get in the way of our best intentions to get fit. Competing priorities, long hours in the office, commitments and motivation can all undermine our will power. One strategy to help overcome this is to utilise your lunch break more efficiently.

30 minutes is all you need to have a total body workout and the following tips from Virgin Active Personal Trainer Charley Crivari will have you breaking out in a sweat. Not only will your body thank you, but your brain will too – with researchers finding improved concentration, better problem solving and increased networking opportunities for those who build exercise into their workday.

So, instead of sitting at your computer in your lunch break, why not try some of the following ideas?

Give a class a spin

If you have a gym membership close to your work, book yourself in for a lunchtime class. Many classes are designed to be short but effective, using methods like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is a burst of well-structured high intensity exercise. Virgin Active have recently shortened classes from 45 minutes to half an hour during the middle of the day – letting you squeeze in a Tough Mudder or TwentyFour class, while still having time to pick up some lunch on your way back to the office. Classes give structure to your gym session – offering a workout for all levels and providing a safe and effective routine that has been designed to fit in a warm up and down, as well as to help you improve your cardio and muscular fitness.

Break into a sweat using your own weight

If you don’t have access to a gym, you can still build some muscle and burn calories doing body weight exercises, which use your own mass and a little bit of gravity to mimic what you can do in a gym. Also, by pairing up with a friend from your office, you’re more likely to lose weight and keep it off once you’ve done so.

The following routine should take around 30 minutes, but can be customised and altered depending on the amount of time you have. For added intensity, instead of taking a 30 second breather, perform another exercise that uses different muscles:

  • Start with a five minute power walk or jog to get you warmed up
  • Find an empty bench, railing or log and do a set of 20 press ups, 20 tricep dips and 20 body weight squats, break for a minute and repeat, doing 3 sets in total.

Tip: If you’re not sure how to squat, stand in front of the bench, keep your legs a shoulder width apart and, without sitting down, lower your bum to the bench before bringing it back up. You’ll get a nice squat without having someone else there to correct you.

  • Find some soft grass, or, even better, use a yoga mat, and do 10-15 burpees, 20 crunches and as many walking lunges as you can do, again completing 3 sets in total.
  • Finish off with another five minute power walk to cool down, followed by some stretches to stop you pulling any muscles.

Go for a run

Ideal for those with showers in the office, going for a run is a great way to keep fit in a short amount of time. By using a wearable device or an app such as Map My Run, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve run, your pace, the calories burned, as well as keep a log of your runs. This all depends on your ability, but if you have 30 minutes, 5km is a doable challenge. Start off with a 2km run and aim to run that bit further, or for that bit longer, each week. You’ll soon start to notice a change in your average kilometre pace, and also in your overall fitness. You could even turn this into a HIIT workout by sprinting for one minute followed by power walking for two minutes and repeating as many times as you can. It will get you sweating in no time and it beats sitting at a desk!

Walk for fitness

If you can’t run because of injuries, or you don’t feel fit enough yet, walking is a really good alternative. If heading out to buy your lunch, why not take a longer route on your way to get it? Or, if you’ve already got food, walk to a park to eat it. If you can fit in 45 minutes of walking, well done, but even 20-30 minutes is a great workout and gets you closer to the 10,000 steps-a-day target.

Want to see how to burn extra calories on your lunchtime walk? Read 8 Ways to Supercharge Your Walk

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