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Exercising during your lunch break has become a trend among office workers in Shanghai of late. And many people believe it has made a big difference to their lives.

An office worker uses machine weights at his gym. Photo: Global Times

Hit the gym at noon!

Bao Junjie usually arrives at a gym in a shopping mall near to his office at around 11:50 am. To begin with, he does some jogging on the treadmill. At this point the gym starts to fill up quickly with many people popping in during their lunch hours. Soon the place is packed, and it's shoulder to shoulder in the body pump class.

According to a 2017 Shanghai White-collar Workers' Health Index White Paper issued by the Shanghai Foreign Service (Group) Co (SFSC), the incidence of health problems uncovered in routine physical examinations among office workers rose from 87.6 percent in 2011 to 95.68 percent in 2016. Being overweight is the most serious of the problems, affecting more than a third of those tested.

A representative from the SFSC Health Management Center said that obesity is primarily caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and that better nutrition and more physical exercise would help to combat this problem.

Gym-goers exercise during their lunch break. Photo: Global Times


Benefits of motivation

Bao is a typical office worker who sits in front of a computer all day long. "I feel that I'm too sedentary and inactive, so I now spend my lunchtime working out in order to motivate myself."

"Exercising in moderation, and to an extent that will not make you feel tired during the rest of the day can boost your energy and make you more alert at work," fitness coach Anni Wu told the Global Times.

"I sometimes feel sleepy in the morning. But after exercise and lunch, I always recoup my energy," Bao added.

The gym where Wu works offers special courses that can benefit white-collar workers by helping them to stretch and tone their whole body and to unwind. "Classes that combine stretching and strength training are very popular among these workers. So are those for relaxing your shoulders and neck," Wu said.

Classes that feature more strength training are also available for those who want to lose weight. "We devise different training plans for people with differing needs. If they can keep on working out regularly, even just three lunchtimes a week, then their health will improve," she said.

Bao has been working out at the gym during his lunchtime for more than two years. "Not only am I in much better body shape now, but I also go to the doctor less often," he noted.

Ma Qianqian has also caught the exercise bug, and has joined a fitness club alongside many of her colleagues. "I used to have nothing to do during lunchtime but eat and sleep. Now I hope I can lose some weight and gain a healthier constitution," she said.

In addition to all the desirable psychological and physical benefits, exercising is also becoming a good way to spend otherwise dull lunchtimes for many workers.

Gym-goers exercise during their lunch break. Photo: Global Times

Only available time

For many busy workers, lunchtimes provide the only suitable opportunities to do some exercise.

"It is usually too late to work out after the office because I don't arrive home until 7 pm. Nor do weekends work for me because I have to take care of my children," He Diwen, a female gym-goer, told the Global Times.

He started working out a year ago and has recently joined a fitness club to use her daily two-hour lunchtime to exercise on a regular basis. "Lunchtime is when I am free most of the time, unlike other times of the day when unforeseen events can just come up," He said.

The question, however, is whether it is really optimal to exercise in the middle of the day. And the problem doesn't lend itself to an easy, generalized answer. Even doctors have differing ideas on this topic.

But Lu Zhiyong, doctor from the Sports Medicine Hospital of General Administration of Sport told that it is vital to get plenty of rest after exercising. "If your body is exhausted without the chance to recuperate, then exercise can have serious implications for your overall health," he added.

This article was written by Chen Zeling.

Gym-goers exercise during their lunch break. Photo: Global Times