What’s your 2:30pm feeling like?

29 04 2011
Sam Zizzi

Sam Zizzi

My 2:30 feels really good! I’m usually energized and alert. An no, its not because I drank a 5-hour energy shot. I’m able to create this mood state by consciously scheduling and completing my “daily dose” of exercise around noon every work day.

I’m sure this seems like an absurd idea to some of you – disrupting your busy workday with some physical activity, but I’d like you to consider this as a option for a few reasons.

First off, our workdays are often the most routine and “blocked off” times of our entire week, thus they are reasonably predictable. I have two kids and a wife that works and is in graduate school, so for me, I really have to make my exercise happen during the work day. After work, I usually pick up and feed my kids and spend time playing with my family. And after dinner, the kids go to bed and I’m exhausted. Exercise is not happening!

So my “Plan A” is to exercise for 30-60 minutes every day during my lunch hour, and then eat afterwards. I usually have a snack like a piece of fruit or granola bar before I go and then the rest of my lunch at my desk afterwards. At a minimum, I will walk during this time and maybe 1-2 times a week I try to go to my gym and do something more vigorous including some strength training. But mostly I walk, and preferably outside. During busy times at work, I actually put at least three of these “workouts” on my work calendar so things cannot get scheduled in those slots.

However, as life happens, inevitably I will end up in a conference call or other meeting during my lunch hour. When this happens, my “Plan B” is to either get a shorter walk in before the meeting, or to sneak out in the afternoon for a walk or visit to the gym before I pick up my kids. My “Plan C” – yes, I have a Plan C – is to take my dog out for a longer walk or to swap duties with my wife for an hour so I can workout in our home gym.

Just as an aside, its also not an option for me to work out before work because I am in charge of my kids and frankly, I hate working out at 6 or 7am in the morning.

The two biggest benefits I get from this approach are improved mood/concentration, and consistent energy throughout the day. Many researchers have found that even a short exercise session of 10-15 minutes (just as brisk walking) can improve mood and energy levels for 2-4 hours. A small investment pays big dividends! The mid-day exercise breaks up “the grind” and brings me back refreshed for the afternoon.

Oh, I forgot Plan D. Yes, I’m serious. Some days, work dominates me and I simply cannot commit the time for 30+ minutes in a day. So, I do some sort of micro workout just to break up the sedentary nature of my job. For example, I might do a bit of yoga in my office or a set or two of pushups. Or I might just walk for 5 minutes a couple times during the day to ensure I don’t sit ALL DAY. These activities are not good substitutes for fitness-building sessions of brisk walking or gym workouts, but they certainly change the pace of my day. Other ways to mix work and pleasure (aka, exercise) are to have walking meetings or take conference calls while pacing or standing.

And sometimes, I fail at all of these or I am sick or really tired and do nothing. These days, however, don’t discourage me – I just keep moving the next day or the next week. Whenever I am able, I move.

Ultimately, you have to find the right timing that fits your lifestyle and the right activity that you enjoy if you hope to be active on the long term. If you choose to exercise during your workday, you may find that it changes the course of your entire day for the better!

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