How to optimize your lunchtime workout

Exercising during your lunch break can be a great way to give yourself a mental break and even improve your productivity and energy when you get back to the office. But sometimes it can feel like the bulk of that hour away from your desk is spent sprinting to and from the locker room.

Smart planning and a few little tweaks can help you make the most of your lunchtime sweat session, says celebrity trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist Holly Perkins. Shave minutes off of your midday routine with these helpful hacks.

    Plan your outfit accordingly

    Don’t waste any time getting tangled in your blouse in the locker room or bathroom stall. Instead, find a way to wear some of your gym clothes to the office (a non-issue for us Health staffers, honestly). “The easiest item is the sports bra, of course,” says Perkins. “That’s something you automatically have to change anyways and it’s a pain in the butt. So wear it, work out in it, get sweaty, then put your fresh bra on.”
    That doesn’t mean you should jump off the treadmill and go right back to your desk. “There should be a little bit of a cool-down in some capacity, even if it’s 1 or 2 minutes on the floor performing just a couple of quick range of motion exercises,” Perkins adds, like gentle leg swings, arm circles, and moving your neck side to side and back and forth.

    Shorten your shower

    Prioritize scrubbing away the sweat and germs, says Dr. Gohara, and not so much cleansing your hair. In fact, you can skip washing it in the afternoon and just shampoo later in the evening. Invest in a wide headband or a reusable shower cap to keep your hair from getting wet. Another hack: If your gym locker room has plastic bags for sweaty clothes, you can use one to cover your mane and secure it with a tie or jaw clip.

    …or don’t shower at all

    Yes, it’s OK to skip the full-body washdown if you’re crunched for time, says Dr. Gohara. “You should always cleanse your face, but it’s fine if you can’t take a real shower immediately,” she says. Have makeup and body wipes on hand to towel away sweat on your face, neck, and the reachable areas on your back and shoulders, where some folks are prone to “bacne,” she adds. (And don’t forget to bring a change of underwear.)
    Worried about spreading stink? Don’t, says Perkins. “You really don’t have to shower again. You’re not going to stink. And even if you do stink, no one is going to smell you. Do not waste your time showering for other peoples’ sakes.”
    Stock your gym bag with your favorite deodorant and rollerball perfume and you’re set.

    Skip the full blow dry

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    Wear a slightly sweaty ponytail and dry shampoo as a badge of honor, says Perkins. “I do it all the time. If I’ve had a really good workout and my hair is sweaty, I just grab the hair dryer and only dry the sweat around my roots and the nape of my neck,” she says. “A little dry shampoo and a quick fluff with a brush, that’s all you need.”
    Dr. Gohara also advises drying around your hairline as best as possible in the time you have if you’re prone to breaking out in that area.
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