Dr. Phil Shares: 8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

Between work, social obligations and general life responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit everything into one day. That often leads to healthy activities like working out being relegated to extracurricular status and never becoming part of your routine.

Given all that, squeezing in a lunchtime workout might seem impossible. And yet … below we’ve got eight reasons to do exactly that. Once you start reaping the physical and mental benefits of midday exercise, you might never go back.

1
IT WILL DE-STRESS YOUR DAY

Nothing wards off stress quicker than a good sweat session. Per Harvard Medical School, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.” It’s been successfully used to treat anxiety disorders and even clinical depression, so it can help you cope with a day full of meetings or that big presentation.

2
YOUR WORKOUTS WILL BE MORE EFFICIENT

If you’ve got nowhere to be, it’s easy to move slowly through a workout, taking time to check your phone, scroll through your playlist or just sit and relax on a weight bench. But when you’re due back in the office, you’ve got extra incentive to make the most of your time. And fortunately, between cardio, weight circuits and HIIT classes, you don’t need more than 30–40 minutes to get in a great workout.

3
YOU’LL UNDO DESK-RELATED DAMAGE

It’s just not healthy to sit all day. Over the years, studies have shown sedentary behavior is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease and poor circulation. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a 61% increase in mortality rates in those who sit and watch TV for seven hours or more per day. So getting up from your desk to stretch or walk around is a great start. Getting up from your desk to exercise for 30–45 minutes is even better.

4
IT FREES UP YOUR EVENINGS

If you’re tired of choosing between the gym and dinner with friends, well, now you won’t have to. Exercise during lunch and your night will be free to spend as you please, without the guilt of knowing you’ve missed yet another workout.

5
YOU’LL BEAT THE CROWDS

Sure, this article could cause everyone to make a mad dash to the gym. But the reality is that, on weekdays, most people work out in the morning or in the evening. That leaves the gym less crowded for lunchtime exercisers like you, so you can nab a coveted bike in that popular spin class or knock out a quick gym session without waiting on machines.

6
YOU’LL MAKE BETTER FOOD CHOICES

Even though you may feel hungry after working out, studies show exercise can help to regulate appetite and even promote satiety. It does this by releasing hormones that help the body better recognize when it’s full. So if you work out during the day, you’re not only getting the healthy benefits of exercise, but you’re more likely to make smart choices at lunch and dinner.

7
YOU’LL FEEL MORE ENERGIZED

A good workout gets the endorphins flowing, and endorphins contribute to that feeling of euphoria, often referred to as a “runner’s high.” That good feeling doesn’t stop the second you stop moving. Instead, the increased heart rate and blood flow can be accompanied by improved mood and energy for several hours after a workout, which means you’ll have the energy you need to tackle the rest of your afternoon.

8
IT’LL BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

In addition to improving your physical energy, exercise can also increase mental alertness and creative thinking. According to British researchers, workers who spent 30–60 minutes exercising at lunch reported an average performance boost of 15%. And 60% of workers saw improved time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines on days they exercised.

With all those reasons to work out during lunch, you might as well give it a try. And if your boss gives you a hard time about leaving in the middle of the day, just say (diplomatically) that you’re exercising because you care about your job and want to perform at your best.

 

by Kevin Gray

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

8 Tips for a Healthy, Active Spring

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After the winter chill is gone it’s nice to go for a walk without having to navigate snow banks, salt, or sleet. Everyone can benefit from taking advantage of the more healthful opportunities afforded, but the trick is to not overdo it. Getting your body used to a more active lifestyle takes some conditioning and common sense. Keep these tips in mind when you head out the door.

Use heat therapy to soothe muscles before and after exercise

Most people know that a heating pad or warm bath after a workout or slight injury can make a significant difference in terms of pain reduction and comfort. What is not so well known is that heat can play a preventative role, too.

  1. Applying heat before a workout session can minimize muscle strain. A study compared pain felt by exercisers who applied a heat wrap to their lower back before their workout session with those who did not. That treatment group rated their post-exercise pain as about 50% less intense as the group that only did stretching. Using commercial heat wrap products available in drugstores may be able to keep you comfortable and get you back to action sooner.
  2. Heat therapy calms muscles and prevents cramping. After a workout, muscles and joints are potentially dehydrated and, because they are attenuated (weakened), not as stable as when they have been resting. Applying a heating pad or wrap for 10 minutes or so while seated or lying down after a workout session or strenuous activity like spring cleaning can help muscles calm down and return to their normal state without seizing up.

Learn more about preventative heat therapy in Heat Wrap Therapy Can Reduce Post-Exercise Low Back Pain.

Stretch to release stiff joints and prevent injury

Whether it’s golf, tennis, gardening, or just walking, stretching is one way to keep you in action longer. Similar to heat therapy, a stretching session of five minutes both before and after physical activity can pay big dividends by keeping you healthy and preserving your motivation to stay active.

  1. Focus on the big muscles first. The quadriceps and hamstrings in your thighs are generally the largest muscles of the body and deserve special attention. That means stretching the back, front, and inner and outer thigh. It may seem a bit much, but you can’t really move without them so it’s worth the effort, particularly because they play a key supporting role for your back.
  2. Stretch the whole body. One approach to stretching is to concentrate on these muscles first, and then work up through the back, arms, and neck, and then down through the calf and ankle.

See Hamstring Stretches for a guide to treating this muscle well, and Sports Injuries and Back Pain for additional stretching tips.

Don’t shortchange your sleep

It can be difficult to adjust to the longer days of springtime, particularly with abrupt daylight savings adjustments. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are major causes of on-the-job injury, as well as other health problems since a tired body is a weakened body. How can you get the shut-eye you need?

  1. Have a sleep routine. Your body responds to routine on both conscious and unconscious levels. Going to bed at the same time, for instance, and only using the bedroom at nighttime can help switch your mindset into ‘sleep mode’.
  2. Make food and drink work for, not against, sleep. Sometimes it seems like there is a coffee shop on every corner. Caffeine has even been injected into bottled water. Moderation is the key, and most doctors recommend eliminating caffeinated drinks after lunch, assuming you turn in around 10 p.m. Java in the morning is OK. Have coffee in the evening and you may be in for a long night of counting sheep.

For more on sleep, consider these 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips.

Move away from your desk, couch, car or gardening stool

It’s all too easy to focus on a task only to look up and realize that you have been in essentially the same position for two hours. Your neck, your back, your arms—they all ache. Sitting too long in one position slows down blood flow to both appendages and your brain, so move them—because they are designed to move.

  1. Set a reminder to move every 20 to 30 minutes. Use your cell phone or watch to set an alarm. That will be your signal to get up and walk around the house or office, or fold a load of laundry, or take out the trash. It doesn’t matter what you do, really, only that you change position and use the major limbs in a different way.
  2. Do stretches at your table or in your cube. Maybe you don’t have the luxury of taking a little walk. No matter. Simply standing up and reaching your hands over your head and then trying to touch your toes may be enough to activate the blood flow.

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