Health

Short lunchtime workouts to make the most of daylight

The cold and dark shouldn't put aa dampner on your fitness goals (Alamy/PA)
Imy Brighty-Potts, PA

Keeping on top of your fitness goals when the mornings and nights are cold and dark can be really difficult and it's easy to feel demotivated and sluggish.

Taking some time out at lunchtime to get a quick 45-minute workout could help you stay full of energy for the rest of the day, while getting you some much-needed fresh air.

So how can you make the most of the time?

1. Give HIIT a try

“If you're a lunchtime exerciser it's likely you'll be short on time, squeezing in a workout during the working day or in between running errands,” says David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at Freeletics (freeletics.com).

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a training method which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by short periods of rest. “The aim is to maximise your calorie burn, raising your heart rate quickly, before recovering briefly and pushing yourself again,” says Wiener.

“You don't need to be doing extra complicated exercises or have fancy equipment to get a good workout.”

Wiener recommends this circuit: Lunges (30 seconds alternating legs), 15-second rest, jumping jacks (30 seconds), sit-ups (30 seconds), squats (30 seconds), 15-second rest, burpees (30 seconds), 15-second rest and repeat.

“Jumping jacks are an amazing aerobic exercise and will get your heart pumping – getting your heart rate up is vital to burn calories. Squats are an amazing exercise if you want to feel the burn.” While burpees are a great cardiovascular exercise using your own body weight, he says, and sit-ups are fantastic for your core muscles, hip flexors, chest, neck and back.

2. Try something calmer

“Pilates, yoga or just going for a walk are all perfect,” says Ben Parker, head coach at Runna (runna.com/). “If the weather is less than ideal and your workplace has multiple floors, you can use your staircase to get your steps in too,”

Time may be tight but making the most of it doesn't have to mean maximum calorie burning – a solid stretch or a quick yoga routine is effective too, benefiting flexibility, posture, stress and mindfulness alongside muscle strengthening.

“Even though you might likely only have 30 minutes to an hour to squeeze in a lunchtime workout, I would still stress the importance of stretching afterwards if you've moved with any significant intensity,” says Parker. “Cooling down after exercise is key, especially when it comes to sports like running. It might be tempting to immediately flop into your work chair, but your body won't thank you for it later.”

You can find a huge array of yoga, pilates or stretching routines on YouTube or TikTok for free.

3. See how far you can run

Say you only have 45 minutes for your lunch break, why not put your trainers on and see how far you can run in that time? And each time, see how much further you can go.

“First things first, a run doesn't mean sprinting for an hour. A run can be anywhere from 10 minutes up to over an hour. Don't put pressure on yourself and think about the benefits,” says Ania Gabb, ASICS (asics.com/gb/en-gb/) fitness coach and marathon runner.

“Running is a great stress release. If we're having a bad day then the best remedy is a jog around the park. It has been scientifically proven that exercise helps with mental health, increasing endorphins, which are your happy hormones.”

Running takes very little prep, as long as you own some trainers and suitable clothes, you can run near your home or outside your office. It's an easy win for time efficiency.

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