How can you squeeze healthy living into your hectic day? Exercise and eat well during your lunch break. It’s a great way to help burn calories, lose weight, reduce stress and give you a boost of energy. So pack up a healthy lunch and your gym bag – and get moving!
Research is showing that short bouts of intense exercise can enhance weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, muscle mass and strength – and improve your mood. Try one of these great lunch-time workouts, recommended by Laurie Ashby, professor of Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College in Toronto, each day of the work week:
Monday: Walk this way
Nothing beats walking for a great all-around workout. Just lace on your walking shoes and hit the streets for 30 to 60 minutes of brisk walking and you can burn up to 150 calories. If the weather isn’t cooperating, take your walk to a local indoor mall or the treadmill at your community recreation centre.
TIP: Eat a healthy breakfast and have a nutritious mid-morning snack (a few nuts, a slice of cheese or a piece of fruit) to stave off hunger.
Tuesday: Hit the stairs
An effective and high-energy way to burn calories and get fit is walking up and down your office building staircase. Stair climbing will work your leg muscles, increase your heart rate and burn an amazing 200-300 calories in 30 minutes. Alternatively, try out the stair-climber at your local fitness centre.
TIP: Tie your hair back to “sweat proof” your ‘do.
Wednesday: Condition your core
Exercise your upper body and the all-important abdominal and back muscles with push-ups and sit-ups. Try three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, and gradually increase as your fitness level improves. Vary push-ups with arms under the shoulders, wide and narrow; do sit-ups with feet flat, knees up, then over to each side. Muscle conditioning for 30 minutes burns 150+ calories.
TIP: Drink lots of water throughout the day.
Thursday: Do it at your desk
Can’t get away? Exercise right in your office. Do as many of these as you can; you’ll use more than 150 calories in 30 minutes: – Chair squats (stand and sit in rapid succession) – Wall push-ups (stand facing a wall about a foot-length away; with palms at shoulder level, push in and out by bending and straightening the elbows) – Knee bends (sit on your chair and rapidly bring knees as close to your chest as you can â€“ hold on with your arms if you need to)
TIP: Set up an on-screen prompt on your computer to remind you to get up and stretch every hour.
Friday: Stretch and de-stress!
To stretch your body, condition your muscles and relax your mind, nothing beats yoga and Pilates. Studios and many community and fitness centres offer lunch-hour classes, or pick up a DVD or book with poses and stretches and practice on your own (you’ll burn 100 to 135 calories per hour).
TIP: Ask a friend to work out with you to keep you both committed to exercise.
Take a few minutes to prepare one of these delicious and nutritious lunches (each around 400 calories) to enjoy at your desk after your workout, suggested by Vancouver-based registered dietitian and nutrition consultant Ali J. Chernoff:
A can of tuna combined with plain yogurt and a chopped apple in a whole-wheat wrap
TIP: Include a cup of herbal tea, lemon water, soy or skim milk, or a few ounces of 100% natural fruit juice (without sugar).
A cup of brown rice with chopped vegetables (such as red peppers, peas, mushrooms, broccoli and corn) and a cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
TIP: Cook the veggies in the same pot as your rice, or consider purchasing a rice cooker. Reheat at work.
A whole-wheat pita stuffed with Â½ cup of hummus, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and red or green peppers
TIP: Add a skim milk pudding or a piece of fruit occasionally if you’re craving a small “dessert” with your lunch.
A cup of whole-wheat pasta with a cup of tomato sauce that includes cooked cut veggies (such as peppers, zucchini, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms) and a cup of chick peas
TIP: Instead of pasta or rice, try couscous or quinoa.
A chopped cooked chicken breast with honey dijon mustard and chopped green onions in a whole-wheat dinner bun with some baby carrots
TIP: Make a few different dishes and freeze them in portion-size containers.