FARMINGTON — Just because it's called a lunch break doesn't mean you have to spend the entire hour chowing down.
In fact, some dedicated San Juan County residents use their mid-day breaks to squeeze in a workout.
At noon on June 5, Susan Steinhoff arrived at Brookside Pool wearing business clothes. Minutes later, San Juan Regional Medical Center's website coordinator was swimming freestyle across the pool during the one-hour lap swim.
"It's a nice break from the day," she said. "I always feel like I'm on vacation."
During the winter months, Steinhoff swims at the Farmington Aquatic Center, but she switches to the city's outdoor pool at Brookside Park on Dustin Avenue when the weather heats up.
Because she only has an hourlong break, finding the time to travel to the pool, change her clothes, swim for half an hour and then return to work can be a challenge.
But Steinhoff has always devoted her lunch break to exercise, and she has her system down. When she gets home in the evening, she unpacks and immediately re-packs her bag for the following day. She also brings smaller snacks of fruit and leftovers to eat throughout the day, rather than eating a big lunch.
For those interested in starting a new routine, she suggests checking out the facility beforehand for showering options.
"If you really want to work out bad enough, you'll make it work," she said.
Many San Juan County residents enjoy additional perks for spending their noon break moving. San Juan College offers its 525 benefited, full-time and part-time employees a wellness incentive, which allows for half an hour to be added to their hour-long lunch breaks to be used for exercise up to three times a week.
Sherrie Biringer, the college's benefits manager, said many employees have taken advantage of the benefit since 2005 by working out at the Health and Human Performance Center or walking the trails around campus.
"Sometimes, it's hard to get away. ... Going with a co-worker helps me to stay motivated," said Abby Calcote, an enrollment specialist at the college, who gives herself 45 minutes to rock climb, weightlift or take a Zumba or yoga class.
Not everyone has the opportunity to reap the benefits of a longer lunch break, but how much time is actually needed to get a productive workout?
A study published last month by the American College of Sports Medicine found that 20 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise achieved the largest increase in cognitive function. With a five-minute warm up and five-minute cool down, 26 healthy, young men showed more improvement in cognitive function from a 20-minute workout than one that lasted 10 or 45 minutes.
Piñon Hills Golf Course also sees quite a few people looking for a little extra vitamin D on their lunch breaks, said Dana Hickman, a teaching professional at the golf course.
While a round of golf will not likely fit into a busy work day, the technique exercises that are critical to improving golfers' games can.
"Most people want to see the ball fly. The driving range is more exercise," Hickman said.
But the miniature, two-hole green outside the shop is where golfers can spend time on chipping and putting. A putter and a couple of balls is all you need here, and the area is free to use.
To use the driving range, buy a small bucket — 30 to 35 balls — for $4 or a large bucket — 60 to 70 balls — for $6. A small bucket will take about half an hour, and a large will take about an hour, Hickman said.
Hickman's version of the "practice makes perfect" mantra about the game of golf can be applied to just about any activity.
"The more you practice, the luckier you get," he said.
As for Steinhoff, she adds there's another benefit of spending her lunch break under the sun.
"Even with sunscreen, you do get a little tan," she said.