Squeezing in a midday workout is so much easier with these tried-and-true tips.


You’ve probably heard that sitting all day isn’t great for your body, so getting up and moving midday (even if it’s just to go refill your water bottle) is a no-brainer.

But there’s an emerging body of research that suggests that a midday workout can actually lead to better performance, more enthusiasm, and increased creativity in the work place. And another bonus? The gym is usually emptiest in the middle of the day, so you won’t have to fight for a locker or share your favorite equipment.

If you’re sitting at your desk and thinking I'd like to or I should but you’re not sure how to get started, below, 11 women who exercise during their lunch break share how they do it… without returning to work with that post-workout stank.

Pick one piece of equipment

“I choose workouts that maximize the little time I have, while still giving me the results I’m after. I like to opt for circuit-style training, especially with kettlebells. This allows me to stay in one part of the gym with minimal equipment and not waste my time running all over the place or waiting on machines. It’s amazing the kind of workout you can get in with one piece of equipment and as little as 10 to 20 minutes.” —Rachel Turner, 24

Wear your workout clothes all morning

“I love working out midday. I feel like it increases my efficiency and focus, which means I’m a more engaged employee at work. When I am going to work, work out, and then go back to work, I wear my workout clothing to my morning meetings (if I can)—that way I don't feel like I’m changing 100 times. For after the workout, I keep extra undies and socks in my bag and bring a change of 'nicer' clothes. I also keep some essentials like mascara and lip balm with me, which I’ll reapply after the workout for a 'fresh' look.” —Gabriela Morbitzer, 28

Put the gym's shower supplies to good use

“I know that I like to work out in the middle of the day, so I specifically chose a gym with a locker room and shower. That way I can rinse my body after the workout and head back to work. While my gym provides shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, I always carry a little beauty bag with deodorant, mascara, dry shampoo, and a hairbrush. I don’t wear a ton of makeup, so that’s all I really need!” —Samantha Moeller, 25

Consider wearing a panty-liner

“I work from home, so I can usually clean up and shower at home. But on days when I have meetings after my go-to Orangetheory class, I’ll wear a liner to help keep my undies fresher. After the workout, I can simply take the liner off, do a quick swipe with wet wipes under my armpits, and I’m ready to roll.” —Donna, 60

Keep an eye on the clock

“If you're anything like me, you tend to waste your time in the gym on your phone (scrolling through social media, texting your friends, finding a song, taking a belfie), which means your workout takes way longer than you need. When I’m fitting in a workout during lunch, I have to get in and get it done, which means I’m forced to focus. To help keep me on track, I grab a set of dumbbells, pick three or four exercises, and set a timer to help limit my rest and distraction!” —Devon Day Moretti, 23

Pack at least these two essentials

“I work at a gym, so it’s definitely easier for me. But I train most of my clients in the morning and afternoon, which means I usually work out during lunchtime. After I work out, I rinse off in the shower (I don’t wash my hair because I’m oil-training it), put on a different bra, underwear, and pair of socks, and then put my work outfit back on. As long as I pack two things–clean bra and clean socks–I feel and smell clean.” —Nika, 25

Make every minute count

“I only get a one-hour lunch break, so I have to use those 60 minutes wisely so that I’ll have time to work out and eat before getting back to work. Thirty minutes before my lunch break, I eat either a banana or a granola bar so that I’ll have the energy to get right into the workout when I get to the gym. Then, when I get there (it's a five-minute drive from my office), I’ll put on deodorant to help keep the smell at bay. For my workout, I usually cut my rest time in half between sets when I’m strength-training, so instead of one minute between sets, I rest 30 seconds. After my workout, I’ll spray myself with perfume, brush up my makeup if needed, eat one of my meal-prepped meals in the car, and then get back to work just in time.” —Rachel, 23

Mask those tell-tale gym smells

“I wear both antiperspirant and deodorant both before and after class, I always carry deodorizers for my sneakers, and I also use perfume. That way, when I leave the gym, I’m not musty or carrying a sweaty odor. I’m all about smell-patrol, but I never overdo it. My tip: Instead of spraying your perfume onto your skin directly, spray it five feet ahead of you and walk through it.” —Monica, 33

Take a cold shower

“I’m fairly light-skinned, which means if I take a hot shower after my workout, my face gets even more flushed. So when I rinse off after my workout before heading back to work, I take a cool shower, use the hair dryer on cold, and then put on some deodorant.” —Isabella Sofia, 23

Accept that you may be a little stinky

“I’m a cop, and we have a gym at work, which makes it easy to change, work out, and put my uniform back on before going back to work. I put on deodorant before and after working out, but because I wear a thick uniform to work I’ve given up on smelling like flowers all day. For me, being a little stinky is worth it because there’s way more equipment at my work gym than I have at home.” —AJ, 25

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Talk to your boss

“Where I work, work-life balance is really important. My boss knows that three days a week I won’t be in the office from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. because that’s when I do CrossFit. Sure, I’ve been at my company for eight years now, which makes this kind of arrangement possible, but I’ve also shown my boss that on the days I leave for a midday workout, I’ll either come in a little early or stay late. My tip is to ask your boss whether or not they’d be OK with you coming in early and popping out during your lunch break on days when you don’t have conflicting meetings. Because my boss knows where I am, he’s more understanding on the days when I’m a little late coming back.” —Maggie, 39