The lunchtime stress release that looks set to run and run

MORNING meetings and late nights at the desk already put paid to New Year's resolutions to join a touch footy team, or drag yourself to the gym at least three times a week?

For some under-the-pump executives, a dash round the park at lunchtime provides the fitness boost they need to stay in shape and provides a mood lifter that keeps them firing through the afternoon.

The lunch-hour run is a fast way of clocking some solid cardio and calorie credits, says Linda Watson, coaching chief at Brisbane's InTraining running centre.

"The good thing about running is you can get something out of a 20- or 30-minute run," Watson says. "It's more time efficient than going to the gym, or even swimming."

For Qantas legal counsel Amanda Barbera, 28, it's a fail-safe way of getting an exercise fix. She covers 10 kilometres of inner Sydney "plus some stairs if I can find them" in 40 minutes then spends the rest of the hour turning herself back into a well-groomed suit.

"My preference is to run before work but late nights, early meetings and daylight savings all too often get in the way of that," Barbera says. "It's then when the 'lunch-hour bolt' is a saviour because it lets me make a quick snatch for the endorphins I'm addicted to. I find it easier to get away from work during lunch because everyone knows you're there for the day and you'll be coming back."

Sydney personal trainer Rob Rowland-Smith has been running his CBD Corporate Warrior training program since 1997. Staged three days a week, the hour-long sessions include about 8 kilometres of running, interspersed with hill sprints, stair climbs, push-ups and abs work.

It's pay-on-the-day and attracts between 40 and 60 participants; some of whom have been turning up for as long as Rowland-Smith.

His regular retinue of accountants, lawyers and bankers view the sessions as reward for their hard labour at the desk, Rowland-Smith says, with some planning their weekly calendars around the couple of hours out with him in the middle.

"Lots of people are under massive stress in high-pressure jobs," he says. "This is the best stress release of all. At the end of the day, it comes down to the feel-good factor. They can enjoy themselves and switch off - they don't have to think."

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