How to fit in exercise around work
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
It’s easy to feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to do half the things you need (or want) to do, let alone enough time to exercise. However, you can make use of your existing routine to get your sweat on, giving you less excuses and more fitness gains.
Run to work
You can easily become one of London’s very admired commuter runners who takes to its pavements and parks to get to work. Jog part of the way if you live further than zone 2; it doesn’t have to be one mode of travel or another. Invest in a comfy pair of trainers and store spare work shoes and clothes at the office if you’re running there. If you're prepared it's a whole lot easier. A running backpack will make the journey far more comfortable; check out this Runner's World article that gives the low-down on the best ones.
After work (in the light), explore alternative roads on your run home and then familiarise yourself with key routes to run on different days. Mix it up. Ultimately you’re never far from a tube if you go off-piste. Having a more photographic memory of London’s streets is handy when a) there are train strikes and b) your battery dies and Citymapper/Google Maps are lost in cyberspace. Also, if you stop tapping in and out of zone 1 each day, it’s amazing how much you can save. Running to work really is a fantastic way to fit in exercise around work.
Run to the gym
Before work, I run to my gym and back home as part of my workout. It’s a routine I live and swear by. It puts so much more time back in my day; I can get up later as I don’t need to factor in time walking to the gym or waiting for a communal shower. It’s an eight minute run each way, giving me about 25 minutes for a weights session (dependent on the number of traffic lights that slow me down). Then that’s my 40 minute workout done and dusted. It frees up the evening and I get to eat my porridge from the comfort of my own bowl and kitchen.
If you aren’t the biggest cardio fan, running to the gym is a great way to ensure you do it as not running home will make you severely late for work. Plus, it's far more interesting than staring at a grey wall on a treadmill. Torrential rain can provide a legitimate excuse but I’ve observed that it rains in London less than we moan it does. I guarantee there’s a gym within a ten minute running radius of your home. It is London after all. It may cost £10 or even £20 more than another gym but what’s the point in paying for a cheaper one if you never go anyway because it’s in an inconvenient location? Convenience is key to meet your exercise goals.
Cycle to work
If you don’t fancy running to work or to the gym, then cycling is another great option to fit in exercise around work. It can also be a lot quicker than waiting for a bus that drives past you because it’s full. The Santander Cycles are a great (and cheap) way to test out whether or not it’s for you. You can find TfL’s suggested cycle routes and maps here. If you decide that you are a budding cyclist, check if your company has a Cycle to Work scheme before you invest half of your month’s pay cheque on gear. This UK Government tax exemption initiative was introduced in 1999 to promote healthier journeys to work, as well as reduce environmental pollution; it means that you can buy bikes and equipment, tax-free. I can’t fault that. Often people say that if they exercise in the morning, it makes them more tired. But once your body has adapted to this cardio workout, you’ll feel more energetic for it. If you do choose this mode of transport, check out my round up of fun London cycling cafes that offer full repairs on bikes (and great coffee).
Utilise your lunch break
I’ve never met a single person who works in London and is paid for their lunch break. Yet, so many people eat their lunch at their desk. This time is built into your day for you to rejuvenate and come back ready and raring to go for the afternoon. You shouldn’t feel lucky that you got five minutes to pop to Pret to grab a sandwich. Instead, tell yourself that you’re well within your rights to use the time. What a better way to do this than fitting in a quick gym class? Loads of gyms in London offer 30-45 minute lunchtime workouts, so why not give one of these a go? If you have some (okay, a lot of) spare cash, 1Rebel has six studios in London’s work districts and its sessions are 45 minutes long with a LOT of music. If you’re pressed for time and your office has showers, then why not run a 5k so that you’re definitely back at your desk within an hour.
Don’t fancy a lunchtime sweat session but still want to get your heartbeat and step count up? Power walking is the way forwards. I love my hour walk at lunch as there are so many places to discover in the City. You can have fun exploring and designing your own routes. I’ve basically created my own food walking tour through Spitalfields Market and up to Brick Lane. If I’m looking for an appetiser, Smokoloko gives away titbits of steak and bread daily, while Beijummy offers bitesize squares of beiju, cheesy Brazilian flat bread. Both are SO good and can be found on Lamb Street. Oh the irony of going for a walk. Anyhow, don’t overlook your lunch break! That time is yours and there are multiple ways to take advantage of it to fit in exercise around work.
As with anything, don’t knock these modes of exercising until you’ve tried them. They may well work for you and, as a result, time will no longer be a barrier to staying fit. If you really are struggling to find the time and your social diary is hectic, suggest a fitness activity to friends rather than a dinner out. There are multiple ways to fit in exercise around work; you just have to find them!