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  • Writer's pictureJesse Lewis

How to Exercise Without Spending a Full Hour

How often do you find yourself at the end of the day wondering, “where did the day go?” By the time you end work, get home, make dinner, and clean up, you are winding down and feeling the exhaustion from the day. The last thing you want to do is exercise before you go to bed. How tempting is it to turn on Netflix and sit back for the remainder of the day before rinse & repeating your routine the following day?

One of the hardest parts about exercising regularly is finding an hour block to perform your workout. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to dedicate that long! We’ll talk about two different ways to add in movement and exercise into your day without dedicating an entire hour. You don’t have to feel bad if you’re not working out for 45-60 minutes consistently. If you do a small amount, but a lot of times during the day, it all counts the same!

The key here is routine. We do a lot during the day, most of which is already on autopilot. We usually have more downtime than we realize, it’s just baked into our already-set routine. Standing while we wait for our coffee to brew. Waiting for the oven to heat up. How often do we dive deep into social media before we realize it’s time to go to bed?

Here are two ways to approach your busy days:

Exercise Snacks:

Rather than spending a large amount of time completing a workout, you can break your workout up into smaller, bite-size pieces to “snack” on throughout the day. Bend forward and touch your toes while you wait for your morning coffee to brew. After every virtual meeting, spend a few moments moving, whether it’s 2 sets of 10 squats, or just walking into another room. While the oven warms up, do some shoulder presses, then stretch as you reach your arms as high and far as you can. Before going to bed, spend a minute or two doing some stretches. Better yet, stretch while you’re in bed. Setting up your daily exercises into digestible chunks can result in you taking more steps and being way more active than you realize.

Habit Stacking:

Habit stacking is when you take a new behavior or task, e.g. exercise, and layer it with another already-established habit. For example, you’re likely already wired to brush your teeth every night before you go to bed. Brushing your teeth is an already-established habit. Now, every time you’re about to go brush your teeth, do 10 air squats. Or 10 lunges. Or 10 reps of any exercise. Soon enough, every time you remember to brush your teeth, you’ll also remember to do an exercise. Then, you can adjust your exercises and add on incrementally, whether by reps or time, until you’re in the habit of working out before you brush your teeth! The world is your oyster here - you can use this strategy to establish a mobility/stretching routine, or perhaps a mindfulness or meditation moment.

Sweating profusely and being breathless are great indicators of hard work. However, you don’t have to reach that level of exhaustion for your exercise to be effective! Completing tasks no matter how big or small can release the surge we need in our brains to feel good and effectively improve our mood, energy, attention, and motivation - this can be especially helpful for those days that just seem to slip away or when the schedule just feels chaotic.

Making the Most of Lunch Breaks: Quick and Effective Workouts

Whether your lunch break is 15 minutes or an hour, you can make the most of your built in break by dedicating a portion of it to exercise. There are many benefits to peppering in a quick workout during your break. It can help to boost your hormone levels so you feel more energized for the rest of your day, save you time from going to the gym before or after your work day, and give you a real break away from the office should you choose to leave for a change of scenery.

Keep in mind, every lunch break workout can vary! You can map out your week by having a cardio lunch, strength lunch, stretch and mobility lunch, or even a simple recovery and resting lunch. For example, you can go for a run for half the duration of your break (remember, don’t forget to save time to actually eat!) Another day you can dedicate the exercise portion of your lunch to a foam rolling routine.

Ways to execute your lunch break workout:

  • Go for a walk or run. Plan a specific route, destination, or duration.

  • Complete a quick AMRAP (as many reps as possible): select a time duration that feels doable for you. For example, select 12 minutes and choose 1 exercises from each of the following lists:

Lower body - choose 1:

Upper body - choose 1:

Full body - choose 1:

Cardio - choose 1:

Alternating back lunge

Push ups

Inchworm walkout

High knees/butt kicks

Air squats

Overhead press

Bird dogs

Jumping jacks

Romanian deadlift

Russian Twists

Farmer’s carry


*any of these exercises can be modified or progressed to meet the challenge level you’re looking for. Deadlifts and squats can be performed in single leg and/or weights can be added for resistance.

  • Once you have your four exercises, set a timer so you’re doing each exercise for 30 seconds + 1 minute of rest. Your goal is to do as much as possible (as many reps as possible) within each minute. Repeat until your 12 minutes are complete!

  • Complete a quick EMOM (every minute on the minute):

    • Select a time duration

    • Choose 3-5 exercises

    • Set a timer for your selected time duration, and begin your first exercise. When your first minute is up, move on to the next exercise. Continue until you’ve completed all your exercises (minute long for each), and rest for 30 seconds-1 minute. Repeat until your time is up OR have a second set of exercises to pre-selected to change it up!

    • You can also modify by taking a 30 second break between each minute

  • Pick 2-3 of your favorite exercises to do in sequence: if you don’t like having a timer, pick your favorite exercises and stretches and complete each exercise for a rep and set count or your choice. For example: 3 sets of 8 squats, 3 sets of 10 plank shoulder taps, 2 sets of 30 second doorway stretch holds, and 2 sets of 30 second seated figure 4 glute stretch (both sides).

Other options for lunch break workouts can include joining nearby gyms or boutique fitness studios that offer 30 minute classes. Don’t forget to give yourself grace on those busy days where you may not have the time or bandwidth to exercise! Rest and recovery days are just as important as any other days you put in the work.

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