How to exercise on your lunch break

Exercise leadership wellness

Here's how to exercise on your lunch break.

  • Use every moment
  • Have your cleanup plan ready
  • Make fast transitions and have your lunch waiting

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Use each moment

You can't waste time.  You need to use each moment to get your exercise in.  So, guard your launch break start.  Don't let meetings go longer than expected.

Start your meetings by telling everyone that you have a hard stop in 30 minutes (assuming your lunch starts in 30 minutes).

If you let people have your lunch break, they will take it.  Be polite but firm that you have a hard stop and you must leave.  It's not OK for your team to expect you to give up your lunch unless it is a crisis.

So, at the moment your lunch break starts, grab your bag and start your routine. 

That routine starts with grabbing your pre-filled gym bag with clothes, shoes, and specialized exercise gear you may need.  Then, change, and exercise.

Remember to blend cardio-respiratory exercise like walking, running, rowing, or other activity with strength training.  One strengthens your heart, the other strengthens your bones and muscles.  It's all good for you.

Clean up

Cleaning up is the hard part, you need a shower and a towel and these can be hard to come by if you run or walk for exercise.  A gym or a work shower is key.

Have your towel ready and use a lock-style key.  It's faster and takes less mental energy than a combo lock.  

Shower and return to your desk.  Here's the key, have a fan on your desk.  If you don't your body will continue to sweat after you've showered, which is gross.  So, having a fan on your desk quickly cools your body and lets you gracefully move back into work without grossing out everyone with profuse sweat.  


If you exercised at lunch you have arrived at your desk still hungry.  That's why you must have a pre-made lunch at your desk.  Turn on your fan to cool down and enjoy lunch.  

Allow enough time to each before any meetings.  People won't appreciate you bringing lunch to meetings if you just took an hour for lunch break.  

You also need to make transitions fast - don't waste time as moving from work to exercise or exercise to work.

Think of the transitions as fast and predefined functions or routines.  They should be quick, effective, and the same each day.  You don't want to spend five minutes looking for your works socks after you exercise.  Put your socks in your shoes so you always know where they are.

Is Exercise Important?

Is exercise important? Yes!

Exercise is one of the main components of a healthy lifestyle. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and make your bones stronger as you age.

First, check with your healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.

What's the best pace for beginners?

Firstly, check that the walk is at a pace that you can comfortably manage and that you can stop easily without disturbing other people around you. Aim to build up gradually to a brisk walking pace.

Walk at a pace that you could hold for a conversation if you had one. If you're not sure what was the right exercise mode for you, our expert-authored guides will help you decide.

How long should I do it for? As a general rule, adults should aim to do some kind of moderate activity (for example brisk walking) for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Try to spread that activity out through the day and make sure you're having some sort of activity on most days. As you start feeling fitter, you can aim to exercise for an hour or more each day. Go at your own pace and with realistic goals.

When is the best time to walk? Whenever you can—it doesn't matter what the weather is like as long as you feel ready for it. If possible, walk outside although an indoor gym or home treadmill walk have an important place in growing your fitness levels and improving health.

A lot of people who don't feel ready to go outside can feel a bit intimidated by the idea of walking outdoors but many people find that becoming better at walking outdoors actually helps them become less intimidated by it.

A good way to start might be to join an organized walking group, which could help the outdoors seem less intimidating.

What happens if I keep feeling tired and get bored with my training?

If you keep feeling tired during exercise, you may be able to improve your fitness and stamina by slowing down a little bit and increasing the frequency of your sessions. The more regularly you exercise the better, so if you can find time to have a short walk every day of the week, rather than three hours at once on the weekend, it will help you feel more energetic during the week than doing it all in one go once a week.

If you are coming back from time away from exercise (e.g. due to illness) or training, or if you are getting bored with walking, consider going back to some gentle exercise where you are able to do a short distance every other day e.g. swimming or going to an exercise class where the intensity level isn't so great that it causes you huge fatigue each time you go.

Then as your fitness levels return and you are able to do longer distances, you should be able to start increasing the intensity of your walking and build up to being able to walk further again.

What kind of shoes should I wear? Wear shoes that support your feet and legs—and don't increase your risk of injury. Even if you don't need prescription running/walking shoes, avoid wearing old shoes that don't fit properly in case your fitness improves to the point that you damage your joints.

High heeled shoes and sandals are not recommended as they can increase the risk of foot damage and injury. 

Most clothes will be fine for walking, but make sure your shoes fit properly and are comfortable enough that they won't rub or pinch when you walk. Buy or borrow a pedometer (a device that measures your steps). The average stride for an active adult is about 2-2 1/2 feet while walking at a brisk pace of 3 mph.

So the average 5K run equals 20,378 steps or 8.12 miles.

Do I need to take any extra equipment? It's generally a good idea not to carry large parcels or heavy bags while you walk because it increases the load on your muscles and joints which can make it harder for you to keep the right form when you walk along with increasing your risk of falling over when it's uneven surfaces.

Having something like a water bottle can help you stay hydrated while doing physical activities


Exercising gives you more energy, vitality, and effectiveness as a leader.  Stop the excuses and exercise, even if you need to do it at lunch.  Remember, walking is exercise and you can walk almost anywhere.  

Be kind to yourself, exercise, and thanks for visiting.  

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