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What’s the Best Lunch Workout?

I’d like to get in a workout at lunch, but I don’t have access to a shower during work hours. I don’t want to come back from lunch looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway. What should I do?


First, don’t freak out about it. Stress can make you sweat, and sweat is the root of your problem here. We posed your question to pro triathlete and lunchtime workout ninja Matt Lieto. Below are his thoughts on how to stay presentable post-exercise and the science behind them.

Lieto: Core work, weights, yoga, functional fitness are likely better options during work if you don’t want to look like a hot mess in the afternoon.

Science: Intensity, duration and the temperature where you workout all influence your body temperature and therefore how much you sweat, says Dr. Rebecca Lopez, a researcher in the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida. The higher those three things are, the hotter and wetter you’ll get. A low-intensity workout in a cool place will help minimize sweat.

Lieto: Skip the hat, and sacrifice a little warmth to ensure no “pitting out” post workout.

Science:  Clothing choice plays a large role in how efficiently your body can cool itself while you workout. Chose polyester materials over cotton for a more efficient heat transfer and, as Lieto says, skip the hat—or go the full monty and skip the hair as well. “The most efficient way of cooling the body during exercise is the evaporation of sweat from your skin. If you don’t have your skin exposed, the body is not able to cool as quickly,” Lopez says. Your body loves to lose heat through your head, so let it. Bonus: You won’t get hat hair.  

Lieto: Do your best to cool down after the workout before changing back into “work” clothes. Your internal body temp will continue to rise for a few minutes post workout.

Science: Your body temperature can continue to increase post workout. Unfortunately, “there’s not a set window for that,” Lopez says. Your temperature can return to normal within minutes to an hour or more, and you’ll keep sweating as long as it’s elevated. Give yourself five to 10 minutes to let your heart rate come down and your body cool off before changing back into your work clothes. Try wearing dark colors that hide perspiration and again, go for moisture-wicking materials like polyester over cotton to avoid feeling damp should you continue to sweat post-workout.

Lieto: Super powered deodorant? Maybe pat yourself down with a damp cool towel before changing.

Science: Antiperspirants plug your sweat ducts with aluminum salts to keep sweat from coming out. A quick full-body once-over with baby wipes or sports-specific wipes will remove salty residue from your skin and leave you feeling and looking fresh.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: Jackie Smithson/Shutterstock