Why I like working out at noon

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

During the work week, I spend most of my lunch breaks at the gym. Would I rather be cozy at my desk with a warm bowl of soup and a piping hot buttered biscuit? You bet. Also, that was oddly specific. Still, about four days out of five, I hoof it to the GoodLife down the street from my office to get sweaty. (Moderately sweaty - don't want to be all unsanitary in the afternoon). Here's why I've chosen to make noon workouts a habit.

[1] It makes me more productive after lunch. 
One of the easiest ways to talk yourself out of a lunchtime workout is to think about how busy you are and how many things remain on your to-do list, but I've found that by spending an hour going to the gym, I'm way more productive in the afternoon. If I don't take a break, I'll find my attention span starting to wane after lunch and I end up getting distracted by other things in the afternoon, feeling burnt out, and ultimately accomplishing less. Going to the gym at lunch gives me a burst of energy and helps me refocus as soon as I get back to work, so even though I'm spending less time at my desk, I'm getting more done.

[2] It gets me out of the office. 
If I don't go to the gym there's a good chance I eat lunch at my desk and pretty much stay stationary all day, which is not great. Even the five-minute walk to the gym provides fresh air and a much-needed change of pace. Getting away from your desk gives everything a break: your body from sitting, your eyes from staring at a computer monitor, you name it.

[3] I can sometimes solve a nagging problem during my workout. 
Yesterday I spent a lot of the morning feeling kind of bothered by a work issue. I went for a treadmill run at lunch and was able to come up with not just one, but several possible courses of action to help me work through the problem. When I got back to my desk I got started right away. I've also been mid-workout and suddenly remembered some task I'd totally forgotten to do. It's great for mental clarity!

[4] I won't go to the gym in the morning...or in the evening. 
Especially in the winter. It's hard to get out of bed on these dark, cold mornings, and I will never be a 5am gym person. As it is, I wake up at 6 and leave the house by 7:20 and that's hard enough. After work, it's once again dark and cold, and once I arrive home and get cozy I'm not going back outside. So, basically, if it doesn't happen at lunchtime, it's not happening.

[5] It keeps me from going overboard with lunchtime temptations. 
I work downtown, and the possibilities for indulgent lunches and drinks are endless. My very favourite Asian fusion tacos are right across the street. Having a plan at noon hour means I'm much less likely to buy lunch every day. Instead, I bring lunch from home and eat it at my desk once I'm back from the gym, saving money and calories.

If you're thinking of making lunchtime workouts part of your routine this year, here are a few tips that have helped me stick with it for a few years now.

[1] Leave exercise gear at work. 
I keep a pair of sneakers in my office so I don't need to drag them back and forth every day (or "forget" them at home). I usually bring my gym clothes every day, but in the past I've brought a few gym outfits on Monday and left them in a desk drawer so I have gear for the whole week.

[2] Put it in your calendar. 
I put my workouts in my shared calendar so they show up as meetings. I get a reminder when it's time to go, and coworkers can see that I'm unavailable during lunch. Having a commitment - even if it's just with yourself - makes it harder to flake on your plans.

[3] Go with a coworker. 
Sometimes you need a little more motivation, and this is where coworkers can come in handy! At my office there was a group of people who went to Spin class together on Wednesdays. We've since fallen out of the habit, but on days when I really need help, I can usually ask around and convince someone to come take a class with me, or even just walk to the gym.

[4] Bring products to help you transition back to work mode. 
I don't have time to do a full shower and blow dry before heading back to work, but I don't want to be a swamp donkey all afternoon either. I pack a few essential products to help me freshen up before going back to my desk. Deodorant is an obvious one. Dry shampoo can be a lifesaver - spritz your hair, blow dry it for a minute, then brush it out to freshen up quickly. Baby wipes are also a great no-shower shower option!

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  1. This, and the fact that my husband goes for a skate everyday at noon hour, is making me feel really bad about myself. There is workout equipment IN MY OFFICE and I still don't exercise at lunch.