Lack of time is the number one reason why people say they don't exercise enough. Long commutes, stressful jobs, household chores and family commitments make it almost impossible to squeeze in even a minimal amount of daily physical activity. No matter how you feel the need for it, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to take care of your physical fitness.
Early risers may find it easier to exercise at home or go to a gym before their day starts. But even serious fitness enthusiasts are not always inclined to get their heart rate up just after coming out of a slumber. Waiting until evening can be tricky, too. After a long day, most people are too exhausted or still too busy for a swift walk on the treadmill or a round of lifting weights. Being able to fit in a short but intense workout in the middle of the day would seem ideal, however, this may not always be possible depending on your line of work or your employer.
A study by the Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K. found that workers who exercised during lunch break got more work done, used up fewer sick days and had lower medical expenses than their non-exercising colleagues. Six out of 10 workers said their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on days when they exercised, according to MSNBC. The amount of the overall performance boost was about 15 per cent.
In a best-case scenario, you would be able to exercise without leaving the office. Many larger corporations have well-equipped gyms on campus. Google, for instance, offers its employees on-site fitness centres in almost all of its office complexes. But also smaller businesses all over the country are beginning to recognize the importance of investing in the health and fitness of their work force. So, if you can count yourself among the lucky ones who have a health-conscious employer, you should make the most of it.
If no such opportunities are available at your work place, you may have to become a little more creative. Perhaps, you can find a gym, a public park or a sports facility nearby. Try to talk some of your colleagues into joining you for a run, a fast walk or a game of volleyball on the front lawn during lunch hour. If all else fails, you can take the stairs in your office building as a substitute StairMaster. Your imagination is the limit.
The benefits of a midday workout are multiple. Exercising at noon (or thereabouts) increases your metabolism for the rest of your workday instead of just the evening hours. It also invigorates you, getting you more easily through the usual afternoon slump. You are also less likely to skip your session due to tiredness or the need to tend to more urgent matters before you go home.
It is also important that you develop a regular schedule and deviate as little as possible. If you are neither an early bird nor a night owl, midday may be your best slot. If you exercise consistently around the same time of the day, your body will adapt to your schedule and be ready for peak performance.
Remember that not only your body needs a boost. Stretching your legs and flexing your muscles can also help you clear your mind and reduce stress. It will make you more alert, focused and productive during your remaining work hours.
So, if your boss considers midday exercising as a way of slacking off, show him or her those statistics. Maybe you'll have company next time.
Follow Timi Gustafson, R.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TimiGustafsonRD