Working lunch?

Lunchtime workouts are a great way for those with busy lives to ensure they get enough exercise. Nuffield health experts Jackie Donkin and Aaron Benn offer their advice on getting the best from your hour

There are many advocates of the lunch time workout, or the express work out. But how do you fit a work-out, lunch and changing time into one hour? And if you do, does the short 20-30 minute workout really make that much difference to your health? Nutritional therapist Jackie Donkin, and personal trainer Aaron Benn, of Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centre, Birmingham, describe how to turn a lunch break into a “power hour”.


If like most people you get an hour for lunch, break it down into segments and use your time accordingly. Use 20 – 30 minutes for your exercise activity and the remaining 30 -40 minutes to get ready and eat your lunch. Make your lunch the night or morning before, freeing up time and enabling you to control what you eat.

For a nice healthy lunch try a lean turkey wrap. Take a couple of turkey slices, half an avocado, a couple of sundried tomatoes, a small amount of crumbled feta and a handful of spinach and wrap in a wholegrain tortilla. Or try steaming a salmon fillet the night before and placing it in a lunch box with a large handful of spinach, some lemon and pepper. Meals like this are rich in protein and provide a good supply of the amino acids needed for good muscle recovery.


A recent survey by Nuffield Health and the London School of Economics shows that the average person in the UK needs to do 12 minutes more exercise a day in order to achieve the government recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. The research shows that 70% of adults do not meet the recommended amount of exercise a week. It suggests that by ‘moving more’ – people can lower their cholesterol (by six per cent) and risk of high blood pressure (by four per cent), cut the risk of lifestyle related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while controlling their weight. Active people are not only seven per cent less likely to be obese, but they also reduce their risk of poor mental health by six per cent.


Exercise is good for you and unless you have any underlying health concerns being active is a must. We offer all our members comprehensive health MOT’s before they start their journey with us. If you have any concerns about exercising, do speak to a GP or medical professional before starting any exercise regimes. Ideally a quick lunch work out should be one that incorporates all of the big muscle groups -  arms, another core, another focuses on legs and so on.


For many of us walking is something we do to get from A to B, however, walking is actually a good form of cardio-vascular exercise, which strengthens the heart and lungs and can increase overall fitness.  It sounds simple but if you can’t get to the gym as many times as you would like and/or struggle to get away from your desk at lunch, think about investing in a pedometer and walking more often. Maybe you could walk instead of getting the bus or get off a stop earlier? See how many steps you can do a day and try and set a new personal best every day. 

Alternatively: Try interval training during a quick 20 minute, split the run into ratios of one minute sprints to two minutes jogging or walking and then 30 second sprints and one minute jogging or walking. Start the run with a brisk walk to warm yourself up before you start running. This is a great anaerobic and aerobic workout which will increase stamina and help to burn fat. Short interval sessions have the added bonus of keeping a run interesting and make the time go quickly.