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Originally published Monday, August 13, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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Lunch: a recipe for fitness

Columnist Kelly Turner outlines how to use lunch time for fitness time.

Special to the Seattle Times

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Whether you have an hour for lunch, or just 30 minutes, that is still plenty of time to get in a great workout.

And don't worry that your lunch workout will leave you feeling drained — a midday workout actually will give you more energy than any cup of coffee or energy drink ever could.

Time management is going to be your biggest roadblock. The window may seem tight, but the key to fitting in a lunchtime workout is to be efficient, both in prep and in the workout itself.

Prep smart. Pack a bag with not only everything you need for your workout but also what you will need afterward to freshen up. Consider packing extra clothes, shoes, water, toiletries like deodorant and makeup, a towel, a brush and anything else you may feel you need.

Don't skip your lunch. Eat your lunch outside of your actual lunch break, if possible. Just munch while you work so no productivity is lost. Most experts recommend eating after your workout instead of before. If you eat before, your body won't have time to digest the food to use as fuel for your workout anyway and it may upset your stomach. If the last time you ate was breakfast, or if you skipped breakfast, be sure to have a small snack so you'll have a little something in the tank.

Have a workout planned. Write down specifically what your workout will be so you don't waste time. If your office has a gym, take advantage, but if not, walking, running, climbing stairs and strength training in an empty conference room or in a park are all good options.

Have a backup plan. You may love to run the trail around your office building, but if it's raining, you might need a Plan B. Keep a list of possible workouts (remember, you should be writing them down anyway) that you can choose from if you come across any unexpected changes to your plan. This also helps to avoid exercise boredom.

Keep it simple. Use your work space and don't even bother changing. Just bring sneakers and find a flight of stairs. Walk or run the stairs and stop at the bottom each time to do a set of strength-training moves. Try alternating squats, standing crunches and push ups. In about 20 minutes, you will have a full-body strength-training workout, plus cardio, completed with a little time left over to sit and enjoy your lunch.

With an effective plan, you can easily get in a great workout every day and be back at your desk with plenty of time to spare.

Once there, you will be able to cross "workout" off your to-do list, along with that afternoon trip to the vending machine for a pick-me-up.

Kelly Turner: kellyturnerfitness@gmail.com; Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer and fitness writer. www.KellyTurnerFitness.com; on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.

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