Lunch Break Workouts

Work can be hard for a fitness nut. Sitting at a desk for hours at a time is the exact opposite of what our bodies want to be doing. Unfortunately, unless you're a personal trainer or professional athlete, “exercise" probably isn't what's paying the bills.

Most of us, however, have a wonderful slice of time scheduled into our work day called the lunch break. This is one of the best times of day to shake off the stiffness of your office chair and get the blood pumping again. Not only do lunch break workouts help keep you in shape, but they also combat workplace fatigue while keeping your brain sharper. Here are five of the most effective lunch break workouts you can try next time you're clocking out to grab a bite.

1. Burpees

Most lunch breaks typically last from a half hour to an hour. When you're on such a time crunch, speed and intensity are crucial. You want to be able to hit as many muscles as possible, and there's no workout that does so better than the burpee. Jump into the air, land on a crouching squat, jump your feet back into a plank position, and end on a pushup. Then reverse the technique until you're back jumping into the air.

This is a lunch break workout that works your core, arms, and legs all in short, powerful bursts. You'll feel the burn long before you have to get back to your desk.

2. The Stairs

If you work in an office building, chances are you have the option of choosing between the elevator and the stairs. If you really want to get some cardio in during your day, choose the stairs every time. During your break, climb a few flights. To mix it up, skip every other step to really work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. It certainly beats jogging around your building in your dress shirt and tie.

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3. Wall Sits

It's been clinically proven time and time again that sitting for long periods of time can be damaging to your health. During lunch, however, you can swap out your office chair for the wall and get an incredible core workout. Simply lean your back against the wall with your feet firmly planted shoulder width apart, then slide down the wall until your legs are bent at a right angle, as if you're sitting in an invisible chair. Even if you only perform this lunch break workout for a minute at a time, you'll quickly feel the effects it has on your quadriceps, calves, and glutes.

4. Shadow Boxing

Everyone gets stressed out by their job every now and then, so why not channel your frustrations into a simple, full-body exercise? Stand in front of a mirror, bounce up on your toes, and begin throwing punches. The idea is that you're sparring with yourself, so while your fists are flying, utilize dodges and some footwork, as well. Because you're not actually punching anything, this exercise focuses on you stopping the force of your punches, which heavily works your leg, arm, back, and abdomen muscles.

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5. Jumping Rope (Without the Rope)

Sometimes the simplest lunch break workout is still one of the most effective. Leaping up and down not only gets your heart pumping faster, but it also allows for more oxygen to travel to your brain, clearing your head. The best part about this easy exercise is that you can work it into your entire day. A few simple hops near the water cooler or at your cubicle does wonders for breaking apart the monotony of your day.

Working these exercises into your lunch break will help give you the jumpstart you need to get through your workday easier. They'll get your blood pumping, your brain focused, and relieve all traces of workplace fatigue. Just don't ignore the “lunch" part of your lunch break, of course. Remember to break out your meal management bag and keep your body properly fueled before and after!