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Benefits of a Lunch Workout: 5 Exercises to Try

woman eating lunch in workout clothes on exercise mat
When you work out during your lunch break, you can refresh yourself both physically and mentally!

by Steven Auger

There's no right or wrong way to make time to work out. Some folks prefer the tranquility of early morning exercise, while others opt to recover from a stressful work day at the gym.

One often overlooked option that you may wish to try is the lunch workout. That's right! Instead of heading back to your desk for a sandwich and some internet surfing, consider opting for a lunchtime sweat session. Exercising at this time of day can offer a ton of benefits.

For instance, professionals who work out at lunch tend to feel more productive during the latter part of the day and go home feeling more satisfied with their work. They also report improved cognition levels, more completed work, and fewer sick days.

Time Is of the Essence

When you work out during your lunch break, you can refresh yourself both physically and mentally. It's well known that employees can benefit from reduced stress levels when they are able to take breaks from work — and exercising can be a great way to spend that break time!

Your lunch hour doesn't offer the same amount of time you might normally want for a workout, so you'll need to prepare for success. Pack your gym bag with any pre- and post-workout essentials, and try to wear work clothes that are easy to change into and out of.

During your lunch break workout, you can maximize your time by focusing on intensity. Fifteen minutes of a high-intensity workout can equal roughly an hour of moderate exercise!

Don't Forget About Lunch!

While you'll be using your lunch break to exercise, it's still important to eat. Proper nutrition is critical to overall good health, so don't skip your mid-day meal just because you're working out!

Not only is it important to properly fuel up before a workout, but you also need to recharge your body with healthy proteins and carbs afterward. Listen to your body and eat at times that make the most sense. Perhaps you can have a mid-morning snack and then eat your lunch shortly after you exercise.

5 Options for an Engaging Lunch Workout

Ready to get out and break a sweat in the middle of the day? Explore these five different options for lunchtime workouts.

1. HIIT Hard

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can offer a great bang for your buck when you're pressed for time (which may be the case during your lunch workout). HIIT is a cardio-respiratory workout that alternates between quick bursts of speed exercises and short rest-and-recovery periods.

This style of exercise involves working at 80-95 percent of your maximal aerobic capacity. In other words, you should feel as though you're working hard, but not giving absolute maximum effort. Rest for a brief period after each burst to allow your body to recover quickly. Then get ready to ramp up the intensity again.

2. Get Outdoors

Depending on the season, the great outdoors can be your gym! If you're not close to the gym most days, consider heading outside for a workout. You could log some mileage in your new running shoes and head out for a relaxing jog, or you could saddle up and go for a brisk bike ride.

3. Sprint, Don't Sit

Sprint Interval Training (SIT) might be for you if you love the intensity that HIIT workouts can bring — and want to take things to the next level.

The sprint intervals last only 30 seconds and allow a full minute for recovery. SIT workouts can torch calories and benefit your metabolism. Best of all, they can easily be performed in or outside of the gym!

4. Cardio and Weights Workout

Do you typically stick to the treadmill? Only ever experimented with strength training? Branch out by designing a workout routine that combines cardio and weights to exercise all the major muscle groups. Begin with a 10-minute cardio pyramid interval and then move on to chest presses, biceps curls, wall squats, and more.

Don't feel as though you have the time to design your own workout routine? Let Planet Fitness do it for you! That's right, free fitness training is just one of the many membership perks Planet Fitness offers. You can meet with a friendly and knowledgeable trainers who will discuss your fitness goals and customize a program just for you.

5. PF 30-Minute Express

Planet Fitness has your back when it comes to lunchtime workouts. The PF 30-Minute Express routine combines 10 cardio machines and 10 cardio stations. Simply work out for 60 seconds at each station and then rest for 30 seconds.

You'll receive a full-body workout in just 30 minutes, which could give you 30 minutes to shower and prepare for the rest of your day. You certainly don't have to stay stuck at your work station during your lunch break, so consider planning a lunch workout instead!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.