Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Business
Pursuits

The Shameful, Beneficial Midday Workout

Exercising during business hours makes sense—if you can stand the guilt
Companies encourage exercise, so why does the daytime workout feel so sneaky?
Companies encourage exercise, so why does the daytime workout feel so sneaky?Photograph by Kevin Van Aelst

It’s 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and while my co-workers are toiling away at their desks, I’m in a tank top and sneakers, halfway through a workout on an elliptical machine. I’m worried my editor is trying to get ahold of me. I hope I haven’t forgotten any scheduled meetings. I have 40 more minutes until I have to rush back to the office. I haven’t eaten lunch.

This trip to the gym is an experiment. I’m part of the 23 percent of adult Americans with full-time jobs who, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, actually bother to exercise regularly during the week. To fit it into my schedule, I usually do it in the morning, at an obnoxiously early hour. If I wait until the evening, I find that I’m either too tired, too lazy, or both. But there’s an elusive third option I’ve always wanted to try: to become one of those people who exercise in the middle of work.