There was always that old excuse for not working out: you couldn't find the time. Then, you learned your company had created an employee gym on its premises. Or perhaps you noticed the city finally completed that running trail right across the street from your office building. Once you ran out of reasons not to exercise, you realized there is really only one problem with working out at work -- coming back to your desk a sweaty mess.
The idea that your co-workers might see you looking anything less than completely professional and polished can be intimidating. But before you allow this to become another exercise roadblock, check out our tips on how you can freshen up after your office workout and look as good at 3 p.m. as you did at 9 a.m.
Change out of Your Workout Clothes
You've probably heard the saying "dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Well, unless the job you want (or have) is that of a fitness instructor, be sure to change out of the spandex and sneakers after your workout. Not only can such attire be inappropriate in an office setting -- particularly one where clients and vendors might drop by -- it may also violate your corporate dress code. At the very least, post-workout clothing can be sweaty and just plain icky.
When you're not wearing it, be sure to keep your work clothing neatly folded during the workout. Coming back to your desk a wrinkled mess is not much better than returning in sweats. And, depending on how intense your lunchtime exercise regimen is, it's also a good idea to pack spare socks and undergarments in your workout bag [source: Noelcke].
If your office has an onsite gym, there might be a locker room with it. That will be the best place for you to change. If no such area exists, you may be relegated to changing in an office restroom. Just be sure to spare your co-workers a view of your birthday suit by seeking privacy in a stall or private restroom. If you have your own office, it's acceptable to change there only if your door locks and there are no windows. And be sure not to leave any articles of clothing lying around your workspace when you're done.
Our next tip will have you looking cool at work.
Take Time to Cool Off
We've all seen "that" person at the gym. The one who can work out for an hour and still look as fresh as a spring morning. Unfortunately, the rest of us usually don't fare so well. Whether it's a flushed face or a weary expression, getting heated up can take a temporary toll on your appearance. So if your workout ends with you looking more like you just spent 30 minutes in the Sahara than on a stair climber, you might want to take a few moments to cool off after you exercise.
First, start by staying as cool as possible during your workout. You can do this by exercising during the cooler parts of the day if you're outside, and by wearing breathable clothing [source: FitSugar]. Drinking water, both during and after a fitness session, can also help cool you down. After you exercise, you can also try some of these cool-down tips recommended by Woman's Day:
- Cool your pulse points first. Applying ice or cold water to your wrists, behind your knees or inside your elbows can help cool you down faster.
- Chew minty gum. Mint, whether in your gum or in your body lotion, has a cooling effect on your system.
- Calm down. Fanning yourself exerts energy. The quickest way to cool down is to sit still and chill out.
The next tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it can get tricky at work.
Hit the Shower -- Or Improvise
Whenever you get hot, sweaty or dirty, your first instinct is probably to take a shower. Not only does it revive and cleanse you, but it also spares those around you from your less-than-fresh self. If you're at home or your regular gym, a quick shower is readily available. At the office, however, you may be left with nothing more than a bathroom sink.
- Use dry shampoo. It doesn't require water or a lather, just a comb.
- Bring a clean towel. Use it to wipe excess sweat off of your body.
- Have baby wipes on hand. If you don't have access to a shower, baby wipes are the next best thing for removing bodily grime.
- Sprinkle baby powder. Talcum powder absorbs moisture. Throw a bit of it on your feet, back, thighs or underarms to soak up some of your sweat.
Keep reading to learn how you can put your best face forward after an office workout.
Tidy up Your Hair and Makeup
There are probably a couple of reasons why you started exercising. A top reason for many people is to improve their health. But the other reason -- the big one -- is to look better. And a regular fitness routine can certainly help you achieve that, in the long run. However, the immediate effects of working out -- hair flattened to your head, mascara smeared under your eyes -- aren't so pretty. Fortunately, a few primping tricks will have you looking polished (or, for the gentlemen -- well groomed) right out of the gym.
If you have long hair, pull it back in a ponytail. Headbands can flatten your hair during a workout [source: Buchan]. Applying dry shampoo or baby powder to your hair's roots, and then combing it through, can absorb sweat and add volume to your locks. When it comes to makeup, don't reapply everything. Not only will it be time-consuming, putting concealer, foundation and powder on over a sweaty face can create a masklike look [source: Buchan]. Just adding fresh lip-gloss and mascara (once you've wiped your old application off with makeup-removing wipes) should give you a presentable look.
Our last tip is coming up.
We saved the most important tip for last. Because no matter how you look when you return to your desk after a workout, the most important thing is how you smell -- or, rather, how you don't smell.
When it comes to deodorant and exercise (and when we refer to deodorant, we mean antiperspirant deodorant), you have a few options. Clinical formulas claim to provide protection through many hours, even remaining strong after a shower [source: Degree]. So, if you don't plan to keep an extra stick of deodorant at the office, at least be sure you wear the heavy protection, which most major brands now offer.
However, if you want to be on the safe side -- or if you wear a regular formula that's put to the test during a workout -- pack some in your bag and apply it after you've cleaned up. A final option doesn't involve deodorant at all. Rather, you could use a body spray containing a combination of vitamins and witch hazel that is meant to kill odor-causing bacteria [source: Brown].
Want to read more about exercise and working out? Look on the next page for lots more information.
Is exercising at work widely accepted? Visit Discovery Fit & Health to learn if exercising at work is widely accepted.
- Bouchez, Colette. "The Lunch Hour Workout." WebMD. 2006. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/the-lunch-hour-workout
- Brown, Rebecca. "Workout Schedule: Work Out on Your Lunch Break." Shape. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.shape.com/fitness/workout-schedule-work-out-on-your-lunch-break
- Buchan, Meaghan. " Lose weight on your lunch break." Self. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2007/10/lunch-break-slideshow#slide=1
- Degree. "How does Degree Clinical Protection work?" (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.degreemen.com/Men/Men-Clinical-Protection.aspx
- FitSugar. "Get a Shower Fresh Feel Postworkout, Sans Shower." June 25, 2010. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Freshen-Up-Office-After-Working-Out-8876126
- FitSugar. "Why does my face turn red when I exercise?" May 10, 2007. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.fitsugar.com/Why-Does-My-Face-Turn-Red-When-I-Exercise-248284
- Noelcke, Liz. "Post-Workout Beauty Tips." Spark People. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=606
- Woman's Day. "Beat the Heat without Spending a Dime." June 5, 2009. (Feb. 18, 2011)http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Health/Beat-the-Heat-Without-Spending-a-Dime.html