Evidence Why You Should Exercise Over Lunch

by Matt Weik

I stopped counting the number of times people have told me that they don’t have time to exercise. Yet, we all get lunch breaks that allow us free time to spend however we see fit. One of the best ways to get in your workout each day is to use your lunch break to exercise – and you’ll still have time to eat. I work with clients who I have do their cardio over their lunch. All they do is take a pair of shoes along with them to work, and during their lunch break they go out and briskly walk around the building or surrounding area. Now, researchers are showing that with as little as 10 minutes of exercise, you can boost your brain power. Exercise and a brain boost? I call that a WIN!

10 minutes is all you need to be a stud on the job

After the commute to work, we settle ourselves in for the day at the office and prepare to get some work done. The morning seems like the most productive time of the day, as many in the afternoon begin to feel sluggish and their productivity suffers all while their brain seems to drift into a fog. That’s exactly why you need to exercise you’re your lunch break.

With as little as 10 minutes, you can give your brain a boost to put you back into the game of tackling projects and making tough work-related business decisions. Researchers were onto something when they started this study and mentioned, “Some people can’t commit to a long-term exercise regimen because of time or physical capacity. This shows that people can cycle or walk briskly for a short duration, even once, and find immediate benefits.”

Get your mind right

Researchers gathered participants and either had them sit and read a magazine or exercise for 10 minutes on a stationary bike (such as one found in a gym or fitness center). After the participants were done with their respective 10 minutes, researchers conducted tests that specifically looked at areas of the brain that are responsible for inhibition and decision-making.

After running through all of the tests, the researchers concluded that “those who had exercised showed immediate improvement. Their responses were more accurate and their reaction times were up to 50 milliseconds shorter than their pre-exercise values. That may seem minuscule but it represents a 14 percent gain in cognitive performance in some instances.”

You’re not going to turn into a genius after 10 minutes of exercise, but it will give you an edge on your co-workers. Don’t think it’s worth it? Well, what if you were in the running for a promotion, but so was another person you work with? You’d want to give yourself any little amount of advantage that you could, right? So, still think 10 minutes of your day isn’t worth it? Think of the advance you’d get for the promotion and the position it would put you for your future. Those 10 minutes don’t seem that bad after all, now do they? Didn’t think so.

So, if you want to impress your boss and be the stud of the office, get outside over your lunch break and fit in a quick 10-minute cardiovascular workout. You can do this year-round if the weather stays nice. If not, maybe consider bundling up or if your building has long hallways or an area of open space where you could fit in your 10 minutes of exercise, you could do it right there inside the building.

If you have a presentation you need to make with a client or with your team, or a meeting coming up where you need to be on top of your game, head out for a quick brisk walk and come back primed to close the deal. If you can’t find time to squeeze in 10 minutes of exercise, I’m not sure what else I can do to help you. At that point, you don’t value your potential or even your health and even if I said one minute of exercise could help you, you wouldn’t do it. So, whether or not you intend to use the finding of this research to your advantage, is up to you.

For me, I find it to be an invaluable tool to use when I need a quick boost in the afternoon. I step away from my desk, walk around the block, and come back ready to get after it. If I have more time to squeeze in, I prolong the walk for 20 or 30 minutes. But, as the research shows, fit in your 10 minutes when you can and you’ll see the brain-boosting benefits for yourself.


Ashna Samani, Matthew Heath. Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task. Neuropsychologia, 2018; 108: 73