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NEW YORK | Mon. July 23, 2012 6:17am EDT (Reuters) -- With the three-martini lunch gone the way of the typewriter, office workers are free to discover the healthier perks of midday movement. An active lunchtime can range from the sweaty to the serene, experts say, from a full-out cardio blast to a walk in the park.

“People who want to get in a good workout over lunch hour can do simple things like go for a walk,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. “Think about it. Thirty minutes on a regular basis would meet the minimum threshold for physical activity,” he added.

U.S. government guidelines state that adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy.

For an intense workout on a rainy day, Bryant suggests finding a quiet stairwell and performing a series of lunges, dips, push-ups, alternating quick and slow climbs, or taking the stairs two at a time.

“You can do a mix of cardio, interval and resistance training using the stairs,” he explained.

How intense should your midday workout be? For many, perspiration is the dividing line.

“Sweating is a huge obstacle for most people,” said Bryant, “but just sitting at the computer compromises posture and has health consequences.”

Dr. Nicolaas Pronk, an expert on workplace wellness with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), said often workers' lunch time is more limited than 30 minutes. He recommends workers first focus on reducing prolonged periods of sitting with 10-minute breaks throughout the day.

“Sometimes these are called instant recess or booster breaks,” said Pronk, vice president of Health Partners Research Foundation in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Changes in office design, such as sit-stand desks, could help workers without altering the work flow, as well as using stairs.

“In the workplace setting, it may be most important to ensure that people do not sit for prolonged periods of time first, then to stimulate overall increases in physical activity,” Pronk said.

Bryant said another side benefit of the lunchtime workout is the brown bag.

“Odds are you'll probably be eating better because you won't be going out to lunch,” he said.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Andrew Hay)

© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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