Here’s how leaving my desk for an hour each day actually made me more productive

In partnership with Red Bull

I can’t remember the last time I stepped outside of the office for my full lunch break. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I left my desk for the whole 60 minutes.

As a writer I live a sedentary lifestyle, generally spending my 9am-5pm hours staring at my computer screen from a 10cm distance. Tie in the fact that I work in news and don’t like leaving my desk for fear of missing a breaking story and it’s hardly surprising that a 5 minute return trip to Tesco Express is the most fresh air I get.

I came across a new initiative Red Bull launched, Active When On Lunch (AWOL), encouraging partakers to make the most of their midday break by stretching their legs and getting active – something I desperately needed. They even put together a dedicated page where you can find 15 minute workouts, hints, tips and some motivation.

Holding lunchtime exercise sessions from Pilates and Dynamic movement to HIIT classes throughout May at their London HQ (Gary Williams is one of the instructors FYI!), it inspired me to take action and get AWOL. But feeling apprehensive about spending a full 60 minutes out of the office each day I got my co-workers’ help encouraging me to get out and with their support, I pledged to get AWOL over my lunch hours for a whole week.

For me, it was all about exercise – something I have never previously had the time to do.

I’m not a fitness person (I don’t even own a pair of non-fashion trainers) but I’ve always wanted to make exercise a regular part of my routine – for my sleep and stress levels alone. I can’t function before 9am and my evenings are filled with back-to-back plans. That made lunch the perfect time to take control and challenge myself to try a new activity each day for a whole week.

Here’s how I got on…

Monday: Spin

I thought I’d start off strong, booking myself in for a midday spin class. I was apprehensive at first and arriving at the studio, I felt completely out of my comfort zone, but as soon as I was on my bike, I found that I properly switched off, unable to focus on anything but speed and incline. Returning to the office, I was full of endorphins and noticeably more relaxed. So much so in fact that I felt compelled to tackle my ‘difficult emails’ folder that afternoon. A strong start to the week in my book.

Tuesday: Boxing

I didn’t feel like exercising on Tuesday – I was tired, angry and stressed. But knowing that I had committed to my challenge and with the help of Lucy, I forced myself out of the office and off to a lunchtime boxing class. Immediately I knew I had made the right decision as I punched out my stress and I returned to work completely transformed. I was in a good mood, my productivity was at an all time high and I was far too tired to get worked up. That night was one of my best night’s sleep ever.

Wednesday: Barre

I had always wanted to try barre, so the AWOL challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity. While it wasn’t as relaxing as I predicted (the burn was intense), I did manage to switch off for a solid hour and while I was exhausted by the end (barre is hard work, people), I could genuinely feel muscles that I had never felt before, returning to the office in high spirits.

Thursday: Run

I’ve never ran before (again, no actual trainers) but I was so energised from my past few days of fitness that I felt empowered to give it a go. I took myself off for a run (more of a light jog) down the river, breaking in intervals to power walk. Returning to the office a whole hour later, I felt incredible. I’m sure I didn’t look graceful but I was so proud of what I had accomplished and nothing could get me down that day.

Friday: Yoga

Winding down the week, I opted for a 45 minute yoga class nearby. My muscles were aching from the past four days (delayed onset muscle soreness according to my housemates) and so a yoga session was perfect to stretch myself out and reflect on what I had accomplished. As I tested my flexibility, I cleared my head and gave myself that time to switch off and reward myself on a successful challenge.

Overall, how did it make me feel?

Getting out of the office for just an hour boosted my energy, reduced my stress and improved my mood and productivity levels hugely. Not to mention, despite previously being a poor sleeper, I was having no problem getting 9 hours shut-eye.

At the end of the week, I was so proud of what I had achieved and inspired to make a long term change to make the most of that 60 minutes that I previously didn’t take for myself. From now on, I’m going to get out there and get AWOL as much as I possibly can.


If you feel inspired to take back your lunch break, get AWOL and sign up to the initiative. There will be free lunchtime sessions in Red Bull’s London HQ for the month of May and also you can find some cool tips and 15 minute exercises online too.

Feeling inspired? Sign up to get AWOL

Throughout May, Red Bull is offering a range of high quality fitness classes – from rowing to pilates to high intensity interval training (HIIT) – ran by some of London’s best up and coming fitness & gym concepts.

Taking up residency in Red Bull’s Convent Garden HQ, the free ticketed lunchtime classes are all designed to get you out from under your desk and get your blood pumping in 30 minutes. All AWOL fitness classes are free to enter, but you must be signed up first as spaces are limited to 25 per session.


Book your free lunchtime session, plus get tips, inspiration and claim your complimentary can of Red Bull here



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