5 reasons to get active at work

Want to be healthier, happier and have more free time? Make lunch hour your fitness hour. Here’s how to get fit during your midday break.

Make your lunch hour your fitness hour


It’s important to find the time to exercise, but if getting physical at the start or the end of the day doesn’t work for you, lunchtime workouts might be the answer.

“Many Australians sit for about two thirds of their waking hours, increasing the risk of stroke, diabetes and premature death,” says exercise scientist Martha Lourey-Bird. “Lunch-hour workouts are a great way to reduce sitting time, clear your mind, improve your mood and help achieve lasting weight-loss success.”

Here are five more great reasons to get fit at lunchtime.


1. You'll be a step ahead

“We know that 10,000 steps a day is a great number to strive for, for good health,” says Lourey-Bird. “But the average person is only clocking up around 5000 steps. Even people who exercise two or three times a week might not always be doing enough. Just because you’re active for half an hour a day, doesn’t mean you should be inactive for the other 23.5 hours." A lunchtime workout is a good way to ensure you hit your daily step quota.


2. The more active you become, the happier you’ll be

Researchers at Duke University in the US have found that when patients with depression exercised for just 30 minutes three times a week, on top of taking medication, they had significantly sunnier outlooks than those who took antidepressants alone. After six months, only eight per cent of those in the exercise group had a recurrent depressive episode compared to 38 per cent of the medication-only group.


3. You'll be smarter

Lunchtime workouts don’t just whip your body into shape, they can help boost your brainpower, too, according to a recent study by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. “People who exercise say they feel sharper,” says Director of Prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, Dr Martin Juneau. He led a study where overweight middle-aged adults were ‘prescribed’ a twice-a-week exercise routine, then measured for their cognitive function post-workout. The researchers found that exercise significantly improved brain function due to increased blood flow.


4. You'll have more free time

“Fitting exercise into the day can be quite difficult if you’ve got to get children to school in the morning, have a long way to travel to and from work, or you need to juggle tight work deadlines, after-school activities, and your own activities in the evening,” says Lourey-Bird. “But if you prepare ahead, like packing your exercise gear and a healthy lunch the night before, a 30- or 40-minute lunchtime workout can be achievable. It can help you on your weight-loss journey and gives you more free time in the evening.”


5. You'll save money and SmartPoints®

“It’s easy to spend $10 on lunch if you buy it every day. And that adds up to $50 a week or $2600 a year,” says accredited practising dietitian Kate Di Prima. Plus, think about all the time you spend getting to the food court, waiting in line to be served, and then getting back to work. All valuable time you could be using to work out instead. “If you’re well prepared, you’ll save lots of time and money – a lunch from home often only costs you about $2 in ingredients,” adds Di Prima. If you bring your own, it’s probably likely to be healthier than bought food too, so think about all the savings you’ll make towards your SmartPoints allowance as well!