Could your workday benefit from a workout? Before the pandemic, the idea of exercising midday could be a tough sell. After all, it’s challenging to cram in cardio when you’re tight on time, don’t want to pack a change of clothes, or get squeamish at the thought of stepping into your gym’s shower stall.
But now, with so many of us working from home, there is an opportunity to get fit midday because it can all be done under one roof.
We’ve all experienced that dreadful midday fatigue when concentration tanks and your productivity is put on pause. But taking a 20-minute lunch break to exercise can help you reset and recharge. And the physical and mental benefits are immediate.
An afternoon sweat session is like brain food. As you begin to move, your sore, stiff muscles are roused from slumber by a fresh flow of oxygenated blood, while mood-boosting endorphins are released to squash stress. There is also a sense of accomplishment that you completed your workout rather than leaving it possibly to be neglected at the end of the day. Afternoon aerobics can also improve your chances of maintaining or even losing weight if they take the place of an unhealthy afternoon snack.
Here’s a fun workday workout to motivate your mind and muscles: Grab your yoga mat and a free weight (or any lightweight object such as a book or jug of water) and, for an added bonus, head outside. Fresh air is key in waking up the senses. Even if it’s chilly, try to get outdoors. A friend once told me, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
Bird dog squeeze
Begin on all fours with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips over knees. Keep your gaze slightly ahead.
Simultaneously extend your right arm and left leg until they form a straight line with your spine. Hold for a count, then pull these limbs in until your elbow and knee almost meet. Squeeze your core, then release back to the extended pose. Repeat eight times, then practice on the opposite arm and leg.
Start in a plank position with shoulders stacked over hands and spine straight.
Take a large step forward with your right foot, planting it up toward your right hand. Lengthen your spine and pull your chest up as you push your weight into this leg. Do not allow your front knee to extend beyond your toes. Hold for 20 seconds then release and repeat on the other side.
Feel Good Circuit (Repeat three times)
Lower into a forearm plank position with elbows stacked below shoulders and spine straight. Place a light weight in front of your right hand.
Use your right hand to slide the weight forward then back into place. Do this eight times, then repeat with your left arm.
Single leg glute bridge
From a supine position, bend your knees to firmly plant both feet on the ground. Extend your arms to your sides for support.
Extend your right leg, lifting up from your hip and keeping your knees glued together. Push through your left heel to elevate your hips off the floor until your knee, hips, and shoulders form a straight line.
Squeeze your glutes for two counts, then lower your hips back down. Keep a slight space between your hips and the ground for an added challenge. Continue for 15 reps, then repeat on the opposite leg.
Reverse lunge crunch
Stand tall with a free weight in your hands. Step back with your left and lower into a reverse lunge. Your front knee should be stacked over your front ankle and back knee positioned under your hip. Keep your body weight in your front heel throughout this exercise. When steady lift the light weight over your head.
As you push through your right heel to stand, simultaneously lower the weight and bring your left knee up to meet the weight. Do not make contact; rather, get close enough to squeeze your core in a crunch-like motion. Repeat this sequence eight times on both sides.
Jog in place
Briskly pump your arms and legs for 60 seconds, then rest for two minutes before repeating these four exercises two more times.
Before getting back into work mode, take a moment to breathe. Close your eyes, picture something soothing, and let the tension leave your body. You’re now ready to finish your day strong.
Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.