The lunch-hour fitness plan

Seven trainer-approved tips for making the most of your midday workouts

lunch-hour exercise

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Each week personal trainer Barb Gormley answers your most pressing fitness questions.

I only have an hour for lunch each day. Is it possible to get fit by alternating 30 minutes of cardio one day and 30 minutes of weights the next day?

If you work out regularly for 30 minutes each day, you’ll definitely see changes in your fitness level. It’s amazing how much exercise you can accomplish in a short time when you’re organized. Here are few tips:

1. Make the most of your time by performing each weight-training exercise with perfect form.
And be sure you push yourself to what personal trainers call “comfortable fatigue.” It should feel difficult and tiring, but not painful or completely exhausting.

2. Keep moving! For example, immediately after a set of biceps curls do a set of calf raises (instead of just resting while your biceps recover to be ready for a second set). Or do a stretch, especially if you think the ticking clock might force you to skip over stretching at the end of the workout.

3. Dumbbells are great, but exercise tubes or exercise bands are equally as effective. Plus they’re super-inexpensive and you can store them in a drawer.

4. Power walking and running are great for cardio and for strengthening your legs and glutes and they’re major calorie-burners. Wear a pedometer, and try to gradually increase the number of steps and/or distance over time.

5. One challenge of the at-work workout is dealing with the sweat factor. Change into a T-shirt or even full workout gear to avoid feeling soggy and chilled for the rest of the day. Exercising in a large unoccupied meeting room that’s bigger and cooler than your office can also help keep the sweat to a minimum. Or get really creative like a friend of mine. She stuffs two or three tissues in each armpit to prevent sweat stains on her work clothes as she power walks to work each morning (she takes them out when she gets to work of course!).

6. Think about buddying up with a friend, joining an online community for support or even taking off one day a week (maybe Friday so you can go out for lunch with a friend?) to help you stay motivated over the long run. Making exercise and activity a regular part of your lifestyle, even if the workouts are shorter than you’d like, is what will get you fit.

7. If you have a high-stress job or a super-long to-do list each day, consider this: Studies show that people who exercise during the day are more productive than the workaholics who don’t take breaks and work right through their lunch hours!

Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at